The Oregon Climate Action Plan, Governor Brown’s 2020 executive order on climate, directed the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to study the harms from climate change on the mental health of young Oregonians. OHA has just released that report. It documents how the climate crisis is harming youth mental health in Oregon and offers suggestions for adults to take and to help youth manage mental health.
“The Climate Crisis is harming our mental health in significant ways. We feel isolated, doomed, and ignored. Some of us have lived through traumatic climate disasters like wildfires, extreme storms, or deadly heat waves. The rest of us understand the science and know our future will be severely impacted by climate change, which adds to all the stress, anxiety, and depression we’re already dealing with. All of us feel ignored by adults, who almost all have some power to make a change to protect us and they aren’t acting urgently.”
Top Report Takeaways:
- Climate change is harming youth mental health when directly impacted by disasters such as wildfires, extreme heat waves, and severe weather events disrupting normal life and separating people from communities.
- Broader impact: general anxiety about the future with a looming climate crisis, feelings that it’s hopeless.
- Frustration, depression, isolation because adults: parents, schools, and especially elected officials don’t talk enough about the crisis, don’t take youth concerns seriously, and aren’t taking the necessary action to make a difference.
- Finding out other young people share these same feelings is empowering. Finding community and taking action together helps combat mental health harms.
- Adults must step up. Talk more about the climate crisis and acknowledge youth concerns. Ask youth to be part of forming solutions. Show youth they’re taking meaningful action to solve the crisis.