As the earth suffers from the slow and incremental wounds inflicted by humans, we too are suffering.
Chances are you’ve found yourself thinking about how the climate crisis will affect you. What glacial ice melting means for your access to clean water. Whether and how rising sea levels will impact your hometown. How more frequent and extreme weather events — from flooding to drought — will change what makes it to your dinner table. Perhaps you’ve considered how the climate crisis is a social justice issue that will disproportionately affect marginalized groups. This is easily and understandably disheartening. The catch-all term for what you might be feeling is “eco-anxiety.”
The climate crisis is the single largest threat facing our generation and yet there are few specialized resources for helping you cope when you need it. This gap may also exist at UBC, but there are a suite of available tools and resources that should at least help you manage your mental health, in general.
Talking through your thoughts with someone else can help you work through them by shedding some light on the issue. It is important that you do this with someone that you feel you can share a comfortable and non-judgemental discussion with. Access 24/7 support through Empower Me (a multilingual call-in service at 1 (844) 741-6389) and the Crisis Centre (chat over the phone or online at 1 (800) 784-2433 or CrisisCentreChat.ca).
Talk to a professional at UBC Counselling Services by setting up a same-day appointment (appointments fill up early, so it’s best to stop by in the morning) or scheduling a mental health appointment with UBC Student Health. Talk to a peer at Kaleidoscope, an anonymous peer group that meets on campus weekly or check out the UBC Wellness Centre, which can pair you with a trained student volunteer to talk with.
If you’re comfortable with it, connect with friends and colleagues. They can often provide the most immediate and long term support network.
Feeling helpless is stressful. Get involved with initiatives on campus or around Vancouver, as this can empower you and connect you with like-minded people, alleviating some of the stress. If you want to get involved and are unsure of where to start, check out UBCC350 and the Climate Hub. Visit Sprouts for some low-key and eco-friendly cooking hang-outs or just an affordable and sustainable on-campus cafe to study in and meet people at. Bring a friend or make some new ones!
Much like the climate crisis itself, threats to our mental health feel challenging both to convey to others and to act upon. While both are important and urgent threats, we are taught to search for and deal with the instantaneously visible ones.
Your thoughts, worries and troubles are valid. It is okay to have them and it is okay to want to talk about them even if they don’t seem headline-worthy.
Unfortunately, the climate crisis and climate anxiety are going to be around for the foreseeable future. It’s important that you find strategies that work for you, to help you cope and effectively take part in this long struggle!
The author is not a mental health professional. If you need additional support, please contact Student Health Services and/or the Wellness Center. In case of an emergency call 911. The views of the author are their own.