Increasing awareness of the urgency of climate change, led by the youth climate movement, and growing felt impacts of the health effects of climate change, including the devastating bushfires in Australia, are fuelling a global increase in interest in the concepts of “eco-anxiety” and “ecological grief.” How to cope with these emotions personally, and how to help our patients? Though research is lacking, what is known, is that once safety is assured (red flags like suicidal ideation or a lack of ability to function should cue formal psychiatric attention as in any struggle for mental wellness), people feel better when they come together. Discussing feelings of ecological anxiety in a group universalizes these sentiments, and is the start of the group-based planning and action-generation which has been shown to be associated with feelings of empowerment–and with helping to lessen the initial stimulus for the anxiety–ie: to help solve the climate crisis:
From the creators of SMACC, CODAChange is a new global health community united by a commitment to taking effective action on the most important health challenges of our time–starting with climate change. Dr Courtney Howard, Yellowknife Emergency Physician, President of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment, and the first author on the 2017-2019 Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change Briefings for Canadian Policymakers is, the international policy coordinator for CODA Earth, and is in London today as part of a small group gathered in-person (in the midst of an epic global videoconference!) to workshop the draft action plans that will be set before the CODA community over the next few months. She joins us from London with Dr Hugh Montgomery, Co-Chair of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change, and ClimateCODA Lead, to discuss the potential for unified efforts by the global health sector to turn eco-anxiety into action.