Climate Change & Mental Health Part 2
Updated: Sep 1, 2021
In part 2, of the summaries from climate change and mental health conference, we explored the role of media and how activists can help one another?
Dr Fiona Charles ,Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of Queensland
Dr Katie Hayes, Policy Analyst at Health Canada's Climate Change and Innovation Bureau
Caroline Anitha Devadason, Public Health professional at the World Bank Group
Ili Nadiah Dzulfakar, Chair of Klima Action Malaysia- KAMY
Moderator: Suhailah Ali, PhD Student at the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research
Key themes of discussion Part 1
In Australia, there is climate change denialism in the mainstream media and government, alongside policy inaction. How do media coverage of climate change and government policy influence mental health outcomes and research in this field?
Dr Fiona Charles expressed that Murdoch Media has been feeding misinformation and blocking climate action in Australia and Australian climate policy outcomes are tied in history and dependency of mining especially coal. Nadiah added that in her work with Climate Tracker to study how Southeast Asia and Malaysian news media are covering coal or renewable energy story, she saw that energy story has always been framed in the profit margin, business and economic framing, and minimal connection are made with the broader climate change theme. This inability to educate the public is not linked with climate denialism but with the lack of understanding by the newsroom, editor and journalist alike, on climate change and energy. This has led to the uninformed public and lacked awareness of coal consumption in Malaysia. Currently, Malaysia is one of the biggest coal importers in Southeast Asia, and the trend will remain steady in the course of several decades, according to the Energy Commission in 2018. Another point being raised was how the media-fueled the spillover effect in the diplomatic relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia, which have increased social media-based threats and violence.
Activist and community care?
In recent years, according to Nadiah, there’s been a great deal of momentum in youth-led climate action movements leading to unique mental health considerations for climate change activists. From burnouts to facing climate disasters and intimidation from authorities and corporations that feed climate denialism, youth activists are some of the most impacted in terms of mental health. Coupled with rising job unemployment and widening social inequities and carrying debts, and knowing that the world will exceed the 1.5C limit in the next ten years does not sit well with a lot of youth. Frustration runs high-- evident with the youth mobilisation and collaboration across sectors and the rise of direct action and civil disobedience, as seen here in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong as well as in Chile.
What is the most immediate help you do?
Nadiah shared that more than ever, activists have to be more disciplined-- to take rests intermittently, build strong support systems and platforms for psychosocial training, and most of all, practice empathy and compassion towards each other.
The Good Grief Network
Using a 10-Step approach, they help build personal resilience while strengthening community ties to help combat despair, inaction, eco-anxiety, and other heavy emotions in the face of daunting systemic predicaments.
Eco anxious stories
Provides a space to share stories on eco-anxiety creatively, transform our eco-anxieties into meaningful action grounded in courage and compassion.
Also, read Climate Change & Mental Health Part 1