A North East business is highlighting the rise of eco-anxiety as part of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (15 May-21 May 2023).
Founders of Venture Zero, Clare Blunt and Claire Thew, have identified an urgent need to proactively tackle people’s uncertainty and helplessness concerning climate change. Eco-anxiety is the term used to describe the concern around current and future environmental harm.
In a 2022 ONS Survey, 75% of respondents stated they were worried about climate change. An increasing body of evidence also shows that we can no longer view mental health and climate change in isolation. Dr Gesche Huebner, Senior Research Associate at the University College London Energy Institute, believes that climate change is the most significant mental health threat in the decades to come.
As the country unites to mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Venture Zero will focus its efforts on raising awareness and understanding of eco-anxiety, as well as providing a series of practical tips to help people start making positive changes. Mental Health Awareness Week, now in its 23rd year, is hosted by the UK charity Mental Health Foundation.
Academia has started to recognise the correlation between the health of the environment and our mental wellbeing
Clare Blunt, Co-Founder and Mental Health Lead at Venture Zero, said: “Eco-anxiety isn’t a new term. However, academia has started to recognise the correlation between the health of the environment and our mental wellbeing. Here in the UK, we are reminded daily of our need to do more to protect the planet. This can become overwhelming, leading to increased uncertainty and helplessness.
“Over the last few months, we have been partnering with organisations across the North East and beyond to get people talking about how they feel concerning the topic of climate change. For many, the expense of making more sustainable choices itself is a cause for anxiety, as eco-friendly products are often more expensive. Therefore, we must be creative and develop affordable and practical lifestyle changes that improve the environment and our wellbeing.”
One of the ways Venture Zero helps people manage their eco-anxiety is by facilitating time in the natural environment. Last month, it launched ‘Unplugged’ – a day-long event for businesses that combines an interactive workshop on the relationship between climate change and mental health with an outdoor experience that instantly boosts wellbeing.
Gillian Roll, Assistant Director of Strategy and Insight at Karbon Homes, recently participated in a session that ended with a series of cold-water dips facilitated by CBK Adventures. Each dip was followed by time in a Finnish tent sauna at the water’s edge.
Speaking about the experience, she said: “I found the day thought-provoking and energising. We learnt about the growing evidence of the impact the environment has on our mental health. The importance of our ability to consciously connect with nature enhanced the immersive experience we later had in the sea. I recommend this innovative approach as an educational and experiential team building day, with real mental and physical health benefits.”
Venture Zero’s Top 5 Tips for Tackling Feelings of Eco-Anxiety:
- Know that feelings of eco-anxiety are a reasonable response to what is happening to our planet and that many others share those feelings.
- Take your feelings of eco-anxiety and turn them into positive action.
- Figure out what you value and what feels meaningful for you, and then align your actions with this. Make your actions realistic and manageable.
- Don’t get caught up in only the doom and gloom of climate change, so avoid doomscrolling. Reframe the situation as an opportunity to make a positive difference that can impact your wellbeing, community, and environment.
- Connect with nature and the outdoors, as this will benefit your mental health and relieve some of the feelings associated with eco-anxiety while encouraging pro-environmental behaviours.