By Elizabeth Davies
Research investigating climate change and youth mental wellbeing has started to emerge suggesting that 80% of youth are very concerned about the effects of climate change and this is already affecting their mental and emotional wellbeing.
There's no question as to why we are so distraught. Our futures have been stolen by inaction. The reality of climate change often feels like we are freefalling into chaos with no signs of slowing down. The fondness we have for the natural world is becoming harder to handle; it’s distressing to see something we love exploited irreparably. It’s painful to reflect on the indignities that corporations like fossil fuel companies are perpetuating against our home.
To be alive at this pressure-cooker point in history is profoundly challenging. We are facing a cataclysm unlike anything humanity has seen before. It feels out of the scope of human comprehension, albeit we have been receiving warnings from the likes of NASA regarding this crisis for long enough to know what we're in for. We must accept that we are at a crucially sensitive period in human history. With this acceptance comes a responsibility.
Let’s first recognise that you and I are not the ones gaining substantial profit from the subjugation of our land. We are not a part of the overconsuming, overindulgent billionaire class. It’s apparent that those with the least power are the ones who are suffering the most. That being said, we still have the opportunity to enforce pivotal change through solidarity. In times where it feels like optimism is unfounded, hope is precisely what we need. There is power in numbers, and I know we can shift the narrative if we share and teach the importance of sustainability and preservation.
The Crane Institute for Sustainability is a local non-profit working with global partners and advisors to generate proactive solutions regarding climate anxiety at the intersection of sustainability, health and digital technologies. Our overall project objective is to support youth by shifting the climate and mental health dialogue upstream so that our youth have greater say, agency and power in climate and mental wellbeing decision making processes. We would like to give youth direct and significant opportunities to take actions and provide mutual aid that support mental health around climate issues in Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma, and to mitigate and resolve adverse mental health effects stemming from climate anxiety.
We are seeking youth 25 years old or younger to assist in a variety of opportunities. We are looking for people who want to take local action, want to learn about or speak out in regards to the overlap of climate change and mental health, wish to help direct a research project on climate change and youth mental and emotional wellbeing or wish for support for their own climate and mental wellbeing community project, want to explore an internship role, want to be part of an advisory committee or Youth Leadership Table, would like to integrate climate and mental wellbeing into their school curriculum, assignments or community groups and activities, or want community volunteer hours. If you’re interested in any of the above activities, or want to learn about other opportunities, get in touch by email at email@example.com. Educators are also invited to reach out to build more climate and mental and emotional wellbeing learning activities into your curriculum to support students.
The research component of our project consists of a survey for youth ages 15 - 25 living in the Algoma region. We are localising our survey to mirror an International (2021) and Canadian (2023) survey on climate change and youth mental and emotional wellbeing.
The survey can be completed by scanning the QR code at the end of this article. This page takes you through an information and consent form, with access to the survey at the bottom of the page. Partners in this project include Lakehead University, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Algoma University and the Crane Institute for Sustainability, and other local partners.
It takes courage to stand for justice in the face of such adversity. It can feel like fighting a losing battle, and if you feel this way, you are not alone. If you are grieving over our planet, that means you also have a sincere capability to love. Through community we can heal.
If you or someone you know fits into this demographic and feels compelled to help and find solidarity in their experiences, I implore you to look into this opportunity with Crane to get a chance at direct action and/or to boost your voice through the survey.
For those who are outside of the demographic, I earnestly ask that you seek out additional methods of climate hope such as looking at coalitions, supporting and investing in renewable energy sources, redirecting your purchases to local businesses and companies that participate in carbon offsetting, advocating for and supporting policies that promote the preservation of old growth and the promotion of degrowth, as well as researching into climate resilience. We are facing an emergency, but we are facing this together. Through the conservation and restoration of our ecosystem, we are restoring the dignity of humanity. In collectivity there is solidarity, and in solidarity is strength. You are not alone. You are supported.
It’s not over until it’s over; and until then, we must fight the good fight. For the unborn and the newborn, for our children and our children’s children, and for the greater good.
The Crane Institute for Sustainability is a local not for profit working with global partners and advisors for upstream solutions at the intersection of sustainability, health and digital technologies. Crane acknowledges that we are on land belonging to the Anishinaabek, that these are stolen lands and sovereignty has never been ceded, and that resistance to colonialism is ongoing. Crane supports and endorses the UNESCO Declaration on the Responsibilities of the Present Generations Towards Future Generations. This project is supported by funding from NOSMs $10K Social Accountability Challenge Award - Planetary Health Stream and our community partners.