We Need to Talk About the Emotional Impact of Climate Change

These days, it’s easy to feel helpless, lost, and a little depressed. The climate is changing, and there is only so much a single person can do.

Some recent studies are showing that climate change is literally impacting people’s mental well-being. And while that’s cause for concern, people can combat or address their emotional distress in a number of ways, says psychologist Renee Lertzman, who specializes in environmental melancholia, that specific psychological response people are experiencing due to environmental crises.


The thing about environmental melancholia, though, is that people don’t necessarily connect the existential crisis they’re feeling to the climate. That requires people to, well, talk about their feelings. Not surprisingly, talking is an important first step to dealing with mental health issues stemming from climate change and other environmental problems.

People can also take action, Lertzman told Earther, to address climate change and help themselves feel more proactive. Action can look differently for different people. I, for example, write and report on climate change. For you, it might look more like art, or organizing, or just riding a bike.

The key is to figure it out—with the help of your friends.

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About the author

Yessenia Funes

I mostly write about how environmental policy and climate change intersect with race and class though I occasionally write about animals, science, and art, too. We all need an escape, right?

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