Part one of this two-part series discussed the differences between ecological grief and eco-anxiety, two relatively new terms used in reference to the feelings of sadness and distress that are related to the climate crisis.
Now, let’s dive into how we can face them.
How to cope with ecological grief
Ecological grief and eco-anxiety are not considered diagnosable mental health conditions. However, researchers do believe they may contribute to a general mood disorder like depression or anxiety by affecting well-being and daily functioning.
Early “ecotherapies“—therapeutic treatments designed and proven to address these experiences—are available. That said, they’re not yet streamlined into our current mental health care systems.
For those affected by ecological grief, Pihkala suggests taking these steps:
Connect with others who are going through the same thing
Online or in-person “climate cafes” can help. “Given that many people feel lonely, isolated, or ashamed within their ecological grief and anxiety, the well-known benefits of peer interactions and interpersonal group therapy could be drawn upon,” wrote the writers of the 2020 Lancet Planetary Health study.
Take action when you can
Climate change organizations may empower and soothe eco-anxiety and ecological grief. “Many people find it helpful to take action — to be a part of the change that needs to happen,” says Webster University Geneva psychologist and lecturer Liza Jachens, Ph.D. She also recommends spending time in nature.
Seek “climate aware” mental health care.
Climate-focused therapists and counselors are becoming more common. Pihkala says that sometimes, therapists and counselors who’ve received specific training in addressing climate-related worries use the term “climate aware”. The Climate Psychology Alliance can assist in identifying mental health professionals with this kind of expertise.
Click here to revisit part I of this series.