The Climate Crisis and Mental Health – Why we need to update our approach to health and education.

image displaying psychological effects of climate change

The Climate Crisis and Mental Health

image displaying psychological effects of climate change

An important aspect of the Climate Crisis which is often forgotten about is the impact on our mental health. Even those of us who believe this doesn’t concern us are most probably affected subconsciously.

Recent research shows, that over 80% of the global population is significantly concerned about the consequences of climate change. When we look at this from an evolutionary point of view, it quickly becomes clear that a negative impact on our mental health and well-being is inevitable.

At the end of the day, biologically, humans are mammals, we are animals. The Earth is our habitat. It’s hardwired into our brains that no matter how disconnected we are from Nature, subconsciously we know when our home, and with that our very existence, is threatened.

Let’s have a look at what happens in the animal world when habitats are under threat:

Depending on the species, the severity of threat and the possibility of finding an alternative natural territory, some of the following behaviours and consequences can occur: 

  • Migration
  • Aggression and competitive behaviours to secure resources such as food, water and shelter
  • Adapting to changes
  • Anxiety and unrest
  • Change in social structures
  • Reduction in fertility
  • Extinction
image animals and climate change stress

Do some of these sound familiar?

How Climate Change affects Mental Health

One of the main advantages, or shall we say differences,  we have as humans in comparison to animals (very broadly speaking) is our cognitive ability. It’s our capacity for human-specific traits such as language (in the human form), reasoning, evaluating, mind reading, mental time travel and abstract explanation and prediction for example.

The reason why I am not 100% happy with the word advantage, is that this capacity is also responsible for our vulnerability to mental health struggles. In relation to the climate crisis, it’s not just our subconscious reaction through our reptilian brain, but the plain and simple processing of facts and predicting what is likely to happen in the future that affects our mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Addressing Environmental Trauma through Specific Mental Health Practices

The positive flip side of this is, that through our unique cognitive ability, we can take active and conscious steps to support our mental health. Our incredible capacity to rewire our brains towards more balance and well-being is a unique opportunity to change our mindset towards a more hopeful and empowered future.

Of course, this takes practice, commitment and a multi-faceted framework. But don’t worry, many aspects of this framework are common sense and easily integrated into our daily lives.

In our “Climate Hope through Mindful Nature Connection” course, we apply a 7-element approach towards empowered well-being:

  • Meeting our eco-emotions: The first step towards hope, as counterintuitive as this may sound, is bringing awareness to our difficult emotions in relation to the climate crisis. This acknowledgement of reality is necessary in order to move through these emotions and into the next phase:
  • Self-care and self-compassion. Especially for activists, burnout is a common occurrence. It’s a top priority to take good care of ourselves and acknowledge, that things can be hard while at the same time connecting to the common humanity. We’re not the only ones feeling like this.
  • Mindful Nature Connection: at the root of the climate crisis is our disconnect from the Earth and Nature. Mindfully reconnecting brings us back to our roots, reminds us of the fact that we ARE Nature, not a separate entity. When we feel this interconnection it becomes clear that we can’t have healthy humans on a sick planet.
  • Creative, emotional, and spiritual expression: Our ancestors knew how to deeply connect with the natural world. Ceremony, celebration, ritual and a creative relationship were a natural part of everyday life. Remembering these practices and taking the opportunity to find pathways to bring this realm back into our lives is another way to find our way back home. 
  • Consciously seeking out joy and beauty. Overwhelm, stress and worry cloud our perception and we forget there is always also beauty and joy, wherever we are. It’s a powerful practice to “make it our business” to seek out all that is good around us. Neuroplasticity makes it possible to create more balance building positive neural connections in our brain. We can also call it gratitude, counting our blessings, taking in the good, awakening joy…whatever resonates.
  • Becoming proactive: Once we become more balanced and rooted, becoming proactive becomes an option. We emerge from our recoiled state and can make more informed and conscious decisions.
  • The Power of Community: Community is vital for effective and positive action. In community, we find support, strength, a feeling of belonging, an acceleration of what we can do to create change.
Updating Health and Education Approaches for a Changing Climate

Especially for health and education settings a climate informed reform in priorities and approaches is inevitable. 

Our fully certified “Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy” program teaches health and education professionals how to skilfully respond to climate-related issues and a general disconnect from Nature. Ecotherapy is a rapidly growing modality, applying effective, flexible and creative approaches supporting both human and planetary health.

Testimonial Mindfulness Rooted Ecotherapy
Modules cover a wide range of topics:

Module 1: Mindfulness – An Introduction

Module 2: Mindfulness – Digging a little deeper – The Neurobiology of Mindfulness

Module 3: How Mindfulness informs our Everyday Life

Module 4: Nature Connection – The Missing Puzzle Piece

Module 5: Ecotherapy – The Symbiotic Relationship between Human and Planetary Health

Module 6: Modern-Day Challenges – Eco Emotions and how we can Heal from Environmental Trauma

Module 7: Modern-Day Challenges – The Importance of Taking Care of Ourselves

Module 8: The Importance of Our Senses

Module 9: Mindful Nature Connection and Spirituality

Module 10: Experiential Assignment

Module 11: Nature Connection through Food and Nutrition

Module 12: Working with Children

Module 13 + 14: Planning and facilitating MRE sessions – Final Assignment

The 3-month training is fully online, certified through CPD, IMMA and IICT and is an invaluable addition to health and education professions including psychotherapists, mindfulness teachers, play therapists, teachers, counsellors, yoga teachers, social workers, nurses etc.

For any further questions why not book a free 15-min info call with me.

Early Bird Rate Registration open now, save 10%.

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