If you have been feeling grief, anxiety, or dread about climate change, you’re not alone. Renee Lertzman, a psychologist who studies the effects of environmental loss on mental health, affirms that “There is overwhelming research that distress and anxiety relating to climate is on the rise.”1
In its 2017 report, “Mental Health and Our Changing Climate,” the American Psychological Association found that climate change is causing many people to experience such issues as stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship strain. Those who feel the psychological weight of climate change may develop feelings of helplessness and fear, leading to a sense of climate disengagement.
Many who are experiencing these psychological effects may feel reluctant to talk about them. “If I bring up climate change in casual conversation, the topic is often met with awkward pauses and the polite introduction of new subjects,” notes Peter Kalmus, a climate scientist for NASA. “It’s as though the topic is impolite, even taboo.”
If we are feeling psychological impacts over climate change, it’s important to talk about it, psychologist Lertzman says. “The main thing is that we find ways to talk about what we are experiencing in a safe and nonjudgmental context, and to be open to listening. All too often, when anxiety or fear comes up, we all want to push it away and move into ‘solutions.’”
Beginning June 11, Niles Discovery Church will offer people experiencing climate grief a chance to talk with others about their feelings in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment. Our Climate Grief Support Group will meet on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. in Room 1, from June 11 through July 16. People of all faith traditions are welcome. Contact Pastor Brenda for more information.