Note: this post was updated in August 2023 to reflect updated eligibility for on-campus mental health services.
Have you found yourself feeling overwhelmed lately about the climate crisis?
If so, you are not alone. Climate anxiety is real, and many people experience some level of concern or anxiety regarding our environment every day. A survey from the American Psychological Association found that “two-thirds of American adults said that they felt at least a little ‘eco-anxiety.’”
This anxiety, like all others, is real and valid. It is important to recognize these emotions, thoughts, and reactions and take steps to prioritize your mental well-being.
The positive news is that there are ways you can cope with these feelings and start to improve your outlook.
2. Spend less time online, especially with unreliable outlets. Not all Internet sources are verified, and you could be consuming misinformation. Stay informed through reliable, trusted, and verified sources to gain factual knowledge about the problem. This list curated by the UN compiles some trustworthy sources you may want to check out.
Secondly, even if you stick to reliable sources, the overwhelming amount of online information may only worsen your feelings of doom. Avoid obsessively looking online to minimize the amount of upsetting content you see. Constant information consumption can increase your sense of helplessness. Try setting a time limit for engaging with climate-related content to avoid making your anxiety worse.
3. Consider what you can do about the climate crisis. It is important to be aware of your own limitations and capabilities – you alone cannot stop or reverse climate change, so you shouldn’t expect yourself to do so. However, identifying ways in which you can contribute positively may improve your mood and feelings of capability.
4. Seek professional help. Talk therapy is a valuable tool for supporting your mental health, including finding a place to discuss anxiety about climate issues. A good counselor will treat your concerns about the environment as valid; if you feel dismissed by a provider for this (or any other) reason, it’s time to change providers. While there is not yet any official training or professional designation for climate anxiety, there are self-identified climate-aware therapists.Talk therapy resources at Hopkins include the following:
Homewood Counseling Center. This office provides outpatient mental health services, including psychiatric assessment and short-term individual therapy, to students at the Homewood and Peabody campuses, as well as EP, SOE, and CBS students taking on-campus classes in Baltimore. There is no out-of-pocket cost for these services for eligible individuals.
UHS Mental Health Services. This office provides outpatient mental health services, including psychiatric assessment and individual therapy, to students and trainees at the Johns Hopkins East Baltimore campus. There is no out-of-pocket cost for these services for eligible individuals.
Johns Hopkins Student Assistance Program (JHSAP). JHSAP serves all graduate students, and its services include short-term counseling, crisis response, relationship support, coaching, educational workshops, and consultations with faculty and staff.
TimelyCare. This free mental telehealth service includes options for scheduled counseling with mental health professionals. It is available to all Hopkins students and trainees.
ThrivingCampus. Students and trainees can access a directory of mental health clinicians near where you live to set up and initiate ongoing mental health treatment. The directory includes search filters based on location, expertise, insurance, and various identity-based options. Fees vary by practitioner.
5. Keep everything in perspective. Positive changes have occurred on individual, local, and global scales (check out this TikTok!) and there is no reason to believe that they won’t continue, especially with your help. You have the power to influence others with your own positive attitude. You can advocate for change, write representatives, or simply help educate and involve others around you. Take on whatever role you feel comfortable with and remember to prioritize your own mental health in whatever path you choose.