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Climate Change is Affecting Global Mental Health. Here Is What You Need to Know and What to Do About It.

I live in a small suburb of Belfast, Northern Ireland, near a busy road that thunders with traffic. On the other side of this road, Belfast Lough teems with passing ships. The beach here is small and dirty; in a nearby copse of trees, discarded beer cans outnumber wildlife.

And yet, recently, I spotted movement in one of the eaves of our roof. Part of it has come away, revealing a tiny hole just small enough and cozy enough for a family of house sparrows to make their nest. I found an egg just below that nest a few days ago; it was empty, stained on the inside from the birth of a tiny life. It was a magical moment, knowing we share our house with a family of living beings. It came at just the right time, too; I’ve been feeling particularly low and scared, lately, by the runaway train our planet is set on while those who could do something to change our course simply watch and count their hoarded wealth.

I’ve been experiencing what has been called “eco-anxiety” or “climate anxiety,” though anxiety is only a part of it.

What Is Climate Anxiety?

According to a study conducted by the Lancet, “climate anxiety is associated with perceptions of inadequate action by adults and governments, feelings of betrayal, abandonment and moral injury.” They surveyed 10,000 young people aged 16-25 years in 10 countries across the world and found that 59% were very or extremely worried about climate change, with 84% at least moderately worried. Over 50% mentioned feeling anxious, powerless, helpless, and sad, while 45% said their feelings about climate change “negatively affected their daily life and functioning.”

Why Are People Feeling Anxious About Climate Change?

The young people surveyed mentioned inadequate government responses to

people liking feelings

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