Mission Australia: Climate Anxiety is Causing Youth Mental Health Problems

Essay by Eric Worrall

According to Mission Australia, climate anxiety is a leading cause of mental health issues in young people.

Youth Survey Shows Need for Action on Impact of Climate Change Concerns on Youth Mental Health 

Published: 20 April 2023

Orygen and Mission Australia are calling for urgent action to address the impact of climate change concerns on the mental health of young people in Australia, following new research showing strong links between the two. 

The 2022 Mission Australia Youth Survey shows 1 in 4 (26%) young people in Australia are ‘very’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about climate change, and nearly 2 in 5 (38%) of those respondents also experienced high psychological distress. 

The survey of 18,800 people aged 15 to 19 showed that young people who reported being ‘very concerned’ or ‘extremely concerned’ about climate change were more likely to report: 

  • high levels of concern about coping with stress 
  • their mental health as ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ 
  • higher psychological distress
  • low subjective wellbeing
  • feeling more negative about the future

The 2022 Youth Survey found that half of respondents (51%) identified ‘the environment’ as one of the most important issues in Australia today. Some young people are more worried about climate change such as those who identified as female or gender diverse, and those experiencing financial difficulties.  

In-depth statistical modelling shows that the link between climate concern and psychological distress as well as the negative future outlook were genuine and not impacted by common risk factors. This link was also stronger among young people who identified as gender diverse, Indigenous, or those living in regional/remote areas. 

Orygen and Mission Australia say the results warrant an urgent response, recommending four key actions to address the issue: 

  1. Ensuring future government youth and mental health strategies include actions that address the relationship between climate change and mental health
  2. Partnering with young people when designing actions to mitigate climate related mental health impacts
  3. Providing training to professionals working with young people to identify and manage climate-related stress
  4. Funding targeted research focused on the impacts of climate change on youth mental health

“The impact of climate change on mental health is an emerging, but significant issue that is likely to grow as climate change becomes more severe,” said Orygen Senior Biostatistician and Environmental Epidemiologist Dr Caroline Gao, who co-authored the report with colleagues from Orygen, University of Melbourne and Mission Australia. 

The report suggests that while concerns about climate change may contribute to a young person’s psychological distress, it is also possible that pre-existing psychological distress increases the likelihood of worry and concerns, including about climate change. 

“We believe urgent action is required to better support young people. We want to reduce the impact of climate change on psychological distress, foster hope and avoid despair, while still motivating positive climate actions.” 

Dr Gao added, “Young people are particularly vulnerable to mental ill-health; the onset of almost half of all mental health disorders occurs before the age of 18. With the extreme climate occurrences that have occurred in Australia over the last three years, it is likely that climate concerns are contributing to the exacerbation of mental ill-health for some of our young people.” 

Mission Australia’s Executive of Practice, Evidence and Impact Marion Bennett agrees, adding: “Young people in Australia are telling us that the threat of climate change and the increasing regularity and severity of extreme weather is harming their mental health and wellbeing.  

“We can see in this report that young people who experienced financial difficulties in the past year are particularly concerned about climate change, which aligns with what Mission Australia frontline staff see among some vulnerable young people that we support through our community services and housing. 

“Young people overwhelmingly want action on climate change, and Australia must act to reduce the harm young people are experiencing. 

“We urge governments to update their youth and mental health strategies so there is increased access for all young people in Australia to mental health services, to raise awareness and to upskill professionals in the realm of climate-related distress. It’s also important that governments partner with young people to co-design solutions that will address their climate-related mental health concerns.” 

Dr Gao added, “We are currently conducting a programme of research with our partner organisations to support a better understanding of the impact of climate change on young people’s mental health as well as evidence-based resources for professionals working with young people.”

Climate concerns and young people’s mental health findings from the 2022 Mission Australia Youth Survey

Press release source: https://www.missionaustralia.com.au/media-centre/media-releases/youth-survey-shows-need-for-action-on-impact-of-climate-change-concerns-on-youth-mental-health

Mission Australia is a Christian charity whose focus is outreach and assistance for the homeless and other people in distress.

Climate change anxiety and mental health issues are leading to other serious problems. According to Dr. Alex Wodak, a leading Aussie drug rehabilitation specialist (now retired), climate anxiety is a factor driving young people to destroy themselves with hard drugs.

First, the threshold step is redefining drugs as primarily a health and social issue rather than primarily a law enforcement issue. Second, drug treatment has to be expanded and improved until it reaches the same level as other health services. Third, all penalties for personal drug use and possession have to be scrapped.

Fourth, as much of the drug market as possible has to be regulated while recognising that part of the drug market is already regulated, such a methadone treatment, needle and syringe programs, medically supervised injecting centres. It will, of course, never be possible to regulate the entire drug market. We have regulated parts of the drug market before. Edible opium was taxed and regulated in Australia until 1906 and in the United States Coca-Cola contained cocaine until 1903.

Fifth, efforts to reduce the demand for powerful psychoactive drugs in Australia have had limited benefit and require a new focus. Unless and until young Australians feel optimistic about their future, demand for drugs will remain strong. Young people, understandably, want more certainty about their future prospects, including climate, education, jobs and housing affordability. Change will be slow and incremental, like all social policy reform.

As Herb Stein, as adviser to President Nixon said:
Things that cannot go on forever don’t.

Drug prohibition cannot go on forever and will be replaced by libertarian paternalism. Thank you.

Source: Wayback Machine (the original link from 2019 no longer works)

Of course the risk of kids turning to hard drugs and depravity to fund those drugs is only one possible consequence of youth climate anxiety. Youth climate anxiety is driving the mushrooming of radical groups like Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil, Rising Tide, an alphabet soup of youth driven radical environmental groups whose members regularly expose themselves to danger of injury or death by stopping trains, stopping traffic, vandalising buildings or artworks, or glueing themselves to roads.

I doubt politicians will listen to Mission Australia’s plea for intervention, given their ill considered education policies, which in some cases promote mandatory alarmist climate indoctrination, are likely the main cause of youth climate anxiety.

If anything the climate indoctrination is being stepped up, egged on by scientists advocating Communist Chinese levels of social engineering, to coerce green behavioural compliance.

Our children will continue to be the mostly forgotten victims of climate zealots, for the foreseeable future.

via Watts Up With That?


April 21, 2023 at 12:20AM

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