Updated: Jul 5, 2020
With so much information quite literally at the fingertips of youth, they are often more aware of the state of our planet than most adults. So what impact is this having on their mental health, if any?
Susie Burke, Ann Sanson and Judith Van Hoorn have researched ‘The Psychological Effects of Climate Change on Children’ . They have uncovered worrying evidence that “According to the World Health Organization, more than 88% of the existing burden of disease attributable to climate change occurs in children younger than 5 years” There are direct, gradual, and vicarious impacts to climate change (Burke, Sanson & Van Hoorn 2018) as the effects go beyond the physical and affect our children in deeper ways. The research places “children at risk of mental health consequences including PTSD, depression, anxiety, phobias, sleep disorders, attachment disorders, and substance abuse” (Burke, Sanson & Van Hoorn 2018).
As their world changes to a low-carbon economy, they will bear the burden of negative consequences like “higher disease prevalence, food insecurity, lessened availability of clean water, the need for people to relocate, increased inter-group conflict, and increased economic hardship ”. Preparing them for this world is our job.
So how do we do that? As a mother of a six year old. It's something that I'm very aware of.
Have a look at my 10 tips for raising sustainable kids.
Burke1, S, Sanson, A & Van Hoorn, J 2018, ‘The Psychological Effects of Climate Change on Children’, CHILD AND FAMILY DISASTER PSYCHIATRY, Current Psychiatry Reports, Vol. 20, No. 35.