If you’re one of the millions of people who have experienced extreme weather in the US over the last several weeks, there’s a good chance you’ve felt its impact on your mental health.
- As I write this, flash floods and mudslides pummel Northern California.
- Last month, a “once-in-a-generation” winter storm disrupted holiday travel plans, knocked out power for huge swaths of the country on Christmas Eve, and tragically took dozens of lives in the Northeast.
- In spite of record cold temperatures in December, many parts of the US also saw unseasonably warm temperatures—an unsettling reminder of the “global weirding” that’s happening as our planet warms.
Climate-driven weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense, and they’re taking a toll on our mental health. Research suggests that up to 50% of people who experience extreme weather disasters are at risk of adverse mental health impacts, such as anxiety, depression, and trauma. Recent polls show that a majority of people in the US are worried about climate change—climate anxiety affects people who aren’t directly experiencing extreme weather too.
For those of us who are parents, the mental health impacts of climate change may land in unique ways. We’re worried not just for ourselves, but also for our kids. We struggle with how and when to talk to our children about climate change. We wonder how to prepare them to live in a warming world. We’re navigating our own painful emotions about the climate crisis on top of the daily exhaustion of parenting.
I’m betting I don’t have to tell you that it’s a lot.
As we enter a new year, one of my personal intentions is to care more proactively for my own mental health when it comes to climate change. I know that when I find ways to care for myself, I’m better able to show up for my work as a climate advocate—and better able to show up for my children as a mom too.
The good news is that there are more resources than ever around climate change and mental health. We’ve compiled our favorites in our new Climate Change and Mental Health resource, and we hope you’ll find it useful. You’ll find resources for supporting kids with climate distress, cultivating climate hope, preventing and healing from climate burnout, and more.
None of us were meant to navigate climate change alone, and we don’t have to. I hope these resources help you and your loved ones find the support you need to care for yourself in these intense times—you deserve it.