What is eco-anxiety? Who’s most at risk? How do you manage it? Read our summary of TEDxLondonWomen speaker Clover Hogan’s latest report – The Rise of Eco-Anxiety to get the need-to-know on a mental health condition affecting millions of young people today.

What is eco-anxiety?

Feelings of helplessness, anger, insomnia, panic and guilt toward the climate and ecological crisis. Persistent and intrusive worries about the future of the Earth.’ – Force of Nature, 2021

What does it feel like to suffer from eco-anxiety? 

“I would define eco-anxiety as a sense of helplessness and lack of personal power in the oncoming climate crisis, combined with the knowledge that it will deeply impact my life […] I have experienced eco-anxiety since I was an adolescent, and have experienced suicidal ideology as well as intense anxiety as a result.” – Ana, 20 year old 

In numbers – who is suffering from eco-anxiety: 

  • Over 70% of 18-24-year olds are more worried about climate change than they were a year ago (YouGov 2020)
  • 75% of teachers feel ill-equipped to teach on the subject
  • Only 26% of young people know how to contribute to solving the climate crisis
  • Over half of child psychiatrists surveyed in England say patients have environmental anxiety – quoting helplessness, anger, insomnia, panic and guilt (Watts & Campbell, 2020)
Person with ecoanxiety and depression caused by global warming fear. Photo credit: Force of Nature 2021.

Other eco-mental health terms to know:

  • Ecophobia – feelings of powerlessness to stop imminent environmental catastrophe
  • Solastalgia – an emerging form of depression or distress caused by environmental change, such as from climate change, natural disasters, and/or extreme weather conditions.

Factors that increase your risk to having eco-anxiety: 

  • Geographic location
  • Presence of a pre-existing illnesses or disabilities
  • Socioeconomic and demographic inequality  
  • Part of an indiginous community 
  • Under the age of 24

But it’s not all doom and gloom!

Within the report, you will find useful ideas for how to move from feelings of “anger, anxiety, frustration and despair.” These tips and resources suggest how to shift your mindset, develop resilience, change your behaviour, rewrite your story and inspire action in others. The goal is to move toward “feelings of agency, determination, community and vision.”

What you can do:

  • Knowledge
    • Understand the relationship between mental health and climate change 
    • Observe how external influences impact your mindset 
    • Realise the impact of your self-limiting beliefs 
  • Skills 
    • Verbalise how you feel
    • Identify barriers to taking action
    • Discern between beliefs that serve or hinder
    • Develop resilience to external factors
    • Develop autonomy over your emotional response
  • Behavior
    • Rewrite self-limiting beliefs through action
    • Act on newly-realised skills, talents and passions to deliver solutions
    • Use your spheres of influence to inspire action in others

Do you have eco-anxiety? Take the quiz:

Our friends at Force of Nature have created a great quiz you can use as a starting point to assess whether you might have eco-anxiety. They’ve shared some of the results with us: 

  • 73% of participants experience eco-anxiety, but don’t know what to do about it 
  • 24% are eco-anxious and empowered

We hope this article has given you an entry point into understanding eco-anxiety, how to approach it, and feel that there is a community of support growing around it.

To find out more, head over to Force of Nature to read the full-extended research report – “The Rise of Eco-Anxiety”.

Thanks to Clover and the Force of Nature team for supporting the publication of this TEDxLondon summary on eco-anxiety!

What is The Rise of Eco-Anxiety report by Force of Nature?

Published in March 2021, the report is a snapshot of how 500+ young people (ages 15-25) in 50+ countries are responding mentally and emotionally to the climate crisis. The research was undertaken by Force of Nature,  a youth nonprofit mobilising mindsets for climate action.

Who is Clover Hogan?

Clover is a Climate activist, researcher on eco-anxiety, and the founder of Force of Nature. She also has a great podcast you should check out. 

Where can I read the report?

Read the full Rise of Eco-Anxiety report here

Where can I watch Clover Hogan’s TEDxLondonWomen talk? 

Watch Clover’s talk, ‘Denial or Despair: How to rewrite your climate change story’ here.