We are doomed. Or at least that’s the sentiment surrounding climate change and global warming that permeates the news and social media – so much so that ‘doom’ is now coined term. Describes the belief that we have passed the point of no return in terms of addressing the environmental crisis in which the Earth finds itself.
Education, awareness and activism are essential to combating climate change. However, trading in fear-mongering and categorically incorrect information that gives rise to a “give up” mentality is utterly unproductive.
Depression has implications for environmental health, but also for mental health as this mindset is seen to unsurprisingly increase levels of environmental anxiety, especially in children. Environmental anxiety is defined by “Chronic fear of environmental doom. In fact, a recent study found just that 45% of young people from countries around the world reported that they consider their climate-related anxiety to interfere with their daily functioning.
There are several factors that make young people more at risk of experiencing the negative effects of environmental distress and anxiety more severely. This heightened sensitivity is likely a consequence of their reduced ability to understand and discern reliable sources, increased exposure to negative news through social media, and gaps in access to mental health. These experiences of young people will have profound consequences for the already troubling mental health landscape among young people in the United States.
Anxiety is characterized by feelings of impending uncertainty. While climate change is of course a major challenge facing our society today, much of the impending uncertainty generated by environmental anxiety can be prevented through educational interventions and media literacy training. Therefore, in order to protect the mental health of millions of young people, there is an urgent need to integrate these skills and knowledge into elementary and middle school curricula in the United States.
Unlike the adults who are usually able To distinguish credible articles from those that are not, research shows that, unsurprisingly, children have less than capacity Let’s do it. One way to counteract the negative effects of death is to provide young people with the tools they need to locate reliable online sources and information.
Moreover, incorporating education that is not only news and media knowledge, but also general knowledge about the reality of climate change into school curricula for young people will also help in their ability to discern reliable sources and thus reduce levels of environmental anxiety.
Social media should be held responsible for exposing children to such sources in the first place. Young people are not always looking for news – with Prolific platforms like Instagram and Tik Tok, Find them news. Social media sites like this one have high concentrations of torment content For the same reasons news articles are written this way: it shocks, it gets views, it makes money. So now more than ever, young people must be prepared with the resources to navigate such digital terrain that can negatively impact their mental health.
Young people in the United States face an epidemic of access to mental health care. Currently, just about 20% of young people Need accessible mental health care. While it is categorically important that we improve access to care, any mechanisms to prevent and reduce the severity of mental health problems can and should also be prioritized. Accordingly, implementing media literacy education and training in public school curricula as a primary preventative approach would contribute to narrowing the gaps in accessing mental health care among young people.
However, it should also be noted that not all information on the Internet about climate change and activism is rooted in doom. There are activists like Wawa Jathiro, a Rhodes scholar at the University of Oxford, dedicated her Tik Tok platform to fighting doom and inspiring people to act, not fear, when tackling climate change. She and Others Fight Doom provide factual information on social media platforms frequented by young people as well as actionable ways to become more green and participate in society’s efforts to stop climate change.
Therefore, while these interventions are semi-helpful and important for both environmental and mental health, there is still work to be done to empower and equip young people to first recognize and engage with this productive information and ignore the outcast content.
This is a challenge because the shocking nature of negative information can often overcome the work that goes into reversing it. Thus, given the evidence of relationships between agony and mental health, a more standardized approach to education is warranted to prevent environmental anxiety and inspire activism among the rising generation.
The truth is that we are not doomed.
Elizabeth Jadowicz is a student at the Yale School of Public Health.