We are in the second week of September and I can’t help but notice the extreme heat that we are experiencing several days after summer’s end. The weather changes in recent years has brought about wildfires, sporadic temperatures and hurricanes which can lead to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Areas of our country that are hit the hardest, can lead to individuals experiencing displacement, loss of one’s home, and food insecurity as and local businesses are also impacted.
Many people feel a sense of dread and strong emotions about the climate crisis that we are facing. Some feel a personal responsibility to make our world better. On a recent trip to visit a friend, she shared the action steps she is taking around helping to make our environment better. At the same time, she was pondering if it would do much good. Another friend has reassured her children several times that the world is not coming to an end.
Young people are talking about the environment and our climate and many express concerns that they have inherited a problem that they didn’t create. A friend’s teenage daughter said, “I vacillate between sheer panic and denial of the situation.” Then there are those who say there is no issue with our climate and politicize the issue as simply “Washington DC’s concern is unwarranted.”
Families and peer groups are stepping up when it comes to recycling, donating leftover food and reducing the use of plastic.
Beyond these action steps, researching the issue, community activism and holding politicians accountable can be key areas to focus on.
Social equity and addressing the impact on vulnerable communities can help reduce the negative impact of displacement and forced migration on communities that deal with these issues on a regular basis. It’s important to consider helping communities with food insecurity and access to supplies.
Public awareness and education can provide information on the mental health implications of climate change, as well as promote eco-friendly behaviors.
Taking action is the best way to manage concerns and complex emotions. Pick something that you want to do to help our environment and have fun doing it.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.