What is eco-anxiety? Who’s most at risk? How do you manage it? Learn more with TEDxLondonWomen speaker, Clover Hogan.

In Clover’s recent piece of research, The Rise of Eco-Anxiety, she shares the need-to-know on a mental health condition affecting millions of young people today.

What is eco-anxiety?

Clover’s organisation, Force of Nature, defines eco-anxiety as ‘Feelings of helplessness, anger, insomnia, panic and guilt toward the climate and ecological crisis. Persistent and intrusive worries about the future of the Earth.’

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 years 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. Concept illustration.

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:

  • Understand the relationship between mental health and climate change 
  • Observe how external influences impact your mindset 
  • Realise the impact of your self-limiting beliefs 
  • 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
  • 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

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

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

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. 

Watch Clover’s TEDxLondonWomen talk, ‘What to do when climate change feels impossible’ here.

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