Climate change has threatened human and environmental wellbeing for many decades now, however, eco-anxiety is a rather new term that has emerged in recent years as the psychological aftermath of global environmental deterioration. The increasing frequency of natural disasters, the growing temperatures or the shortage of resources are some of the causes behind this psychological phenomenon.
And although it is yet to be considered an actual disease, many experts have already pointed out the psychological disorders that the current climate emergency can lead to, as people fear the irreversible consequences of climate change and the effects of the latter in their lives and future generations’ development.
What is ‘eco-anxiety’?
The physical consequences of climate change have long been studied and explored, but some regard the psychological effects of the latter as a bigger risk factor for people’s wellbeing, including anxiety, stress and depression as common responses to the already palpable climate change impacts.
Although it is not yet a diagnosable condition, it has already been defined as a ‘chronic fear of environmental doom’. The problem of its diagnosis lies primarily on the difficulty of categorizing it, as it can arise from many different factors and be expressed in very different ways.
What’s clear is that it has in fact been proved that environmental degradation has taken a toll on the emotional well-being of individuals, specially those suffering natural disaster consequences first hand. As a result, efforts today are stronger than ever to understand the correlation between climate change and mental health. Luckily, the conversation around both issues is at an all time high, as these two have been found to be some of the primary global risks in the near and long term.
The new normal
Contrary to what some may think, eco-anxiety is more common than what many originally thought, but the fact of its newly emerging importance among psychology experts still makes it a rather complex issue to address. Besides, many of the world’s efforts are based or focused on climate resilience and infrastructure, which oftentimes forgets or downplays the human factor of the issue.
But far from being just a common response, and although we cannot talk about a formal mental disorder, some experts actually portray and define eco-anxiety as a normal and appropriate reaction to the current state of events, as there is a valid reason to feel deeply worried and concerned about the existential consequences of climate disruption. In fact, to some extent, anxiety is the expected reaction in the face of danger, in this case, the dangers of environmental degradation.
The feeling of abandonment of younger generations
Recent reports have pointed out that climate change is taking a disproportionate toll on children’s and young people’s mental health, however, experts have also warned about the likely underestimation of the consequences of eco-anxiety and its long term impacts.
As new surveys emerge on the topic of environmental mental distress, we can see a growing number of children and young adults feeling the consequences of what some have described as ‘environmental doom’, given the fact that this reality is a direct and irreversible obstacle to their future. Additionally, there is a growing feeling that governments and adults seem to downplay the consequences of climate change, ignoring the repercussions of inaction for the near future.
On the bright side of things, studies have also shown that a useful tool for optimism and hope for those suffering from eco-anxiety, regardless of age, is ensuring clear and reliable information on climate change mitigation and adaptation. This is true inasmuch as people want to be able to know how to make better, more conscious choices and connect more strongly with the environment, as well as find others with whom to join forces in the fight against environmental decay.
Not giving up
Information can also be detrimental, and we can’t take climate activism as a cure-all for mental distress regarding environmental concerns, but it is nonetheless important to find a feeling of usefulness, this is, knowing there is something we can do about the causes of our grief.
Giving up on climate action is not realistic nor helpful, but quite the opposite. Giving up means denying one’s own ability and agency to affect change, which contributes to the feeling of despair and angst in the face of climate change. And although the reality of eco-anxiety is still very recent and needs careful and deeper assessment, most experts agree on the power of community and taking action with the help of other people, as anxiety can be too much to hold for an individual but become more manageable as a group.
Engaging through transparency
We believe and work for transparency to be one of the key values driving the fight for climate action, as it is the only way to understand what we are doing wrong, what we are doing right and what it is that we are not doing yet.
Because being transparent is not only an externality to a company, or a given organization, to help build trust and reputation; it is in fact also a great learning and improvement mechanism. You cannot manage what you don’t understand. And so we advocate for transparency, integrity and precision as imperatives to the fight against climate change.
In DoGood we are convinced of the need to understand and manage efforts to achieve a sustainable transition inside an organization for the correct and efficient functioning of the business and the community it operates in. We alone cannot achieve the substantial changes necessary, but we work on the basis of collaboration, transparency and accuracy in order to bring light to sustainable actions.
In this regard, it is essential to our work to promote good corporate governance, meaning that the processes of disclosure and transparency are followed so as to provide regulators and shareholders as well as the general public with precise and accurate information about the financial, operational and other aspects of the company, including a more accurate definition of the ESG performance.
We have developed a corporate government tool that helps establish ESG impact objectives for employees in regards to the sustainability strategy of the company. Through our technology we are able to activate and track employees’ impact, creating engagement that translates into improved ESG metrics, reputational value and an overall positive impact for the environment and society.
If you want to know more about how we work to create a positive social and environmental impact, click here.