You’ve probably heard the term ‘Environmental Anxiety’. But what is it? Environmental anxiety refers to our fear and uncertainty about environmental changes and environmental phenomena like drought, flood and bushfire. Now we know what it is, how does it impact on people’s lives and what can people do to reduce their anxiety?
Peter Gorman works with the Western NSW Local Health District as a Drought Support Peer Worker. In this role, Peter provides one-on-one support to those affected by drought. This could be anyone – from farmers and families, to shop owners, schools or fellow health professionals.
Peter has worked closely with the RAMHP team for several years and has a lived experience of life on the land. Having this firsthand experience provides Peter with a deep understanding of how drought can impact a person’s life.
Kylie Atkinson has worked with RAMHP since 2013 and is the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program Coordinator based in Forster. Kylie supports communities and individuals in the Hunter New England Local Health District.
Kylie’s background is in Occupational Therapy and she has always worked within mental health services. Kylie loves living and working in rural NSW and strives to increase awareness of mental wellbeing and encourages help-seeking and stigma-reduction activities.
Many people may be experiencing environmental anxiety in rural NSW after witnessing a summer of severe drought and bushfires in 2019-20.
Environmental anxiety is experiencing anxiety about environmental issues. This may stem from the awareness of a rising risk of extreme weather events, losses of livelihood or housing, fears for future generations, and feelings of helplessness.
Environmental anxiety is also sometimes called Eco-anxiety, Climate distress or Solastalgia. It’s not a diagnoseable mental health condition but it can cause or exacerbate mental health conditions like anxiety or depression
Environmental anxiety can cause emotions such as anxiety, sadness, distress, despair, anger, fear, helplessness, stress, and feelings of hopelessness.
It’s important to note that environmental damage or disaster does not affect all people equally. For this reason, some people may feel anxiety around environmental issues more intensely. Some parts of the world are more vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather, including coastal communities and drought prone areas. Particularly, people whose livelihoods depend on the environment, such as those with jobs in fishing, tourism, and agriculture, are more likely to be affected.
When people lose their homes, businesses and possessions or potentially witness the loss of life as a result of an environmental event or disaster, the resulting impact on the psyche is likely to be traumatic. It’s important to seek professional mental health support if feelings of distress impact your day-to-day life or last for more than a few weeks.
If a person is concerned that their worries about the environment interfere with their everyday life, their ability to work, or their ability to look after themselves, they should talk to a GP or mental health professional.
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
Beyond Blue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.
Beyond Blue’s website is packed with helpful information and supporting resources.
Beyond Blue also have a 24/7 phone line. Call 1300 22 4636.
CRANAplus Bush Support Services: 1800 805 391
The challenges that face Remote Health Workers in their day to day lives (both at work and just by living remotely) are different than those living with the support found in larger regional and urban areas. CRANAplus’ Bush Support Services recognises this and offers unique and helpful resources that draw on its vast network and specialised knowledge. CRANAplus sees Bush Support Services as vital in retaining a healthy and resilient workforce in the remote sector and makes health worker support a priority.
Through Bush Support Services, CRANAplus is able to provide 24/7 personalised care for remote health workers and their families.
You don’t have to be a Member to utilise this service.
CRANAplus qualified psychologists are experienced in the remote sector and know first-hand, the best resources for those with unique support needs. They have an understanding that the particular mental health of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous remote health workers is a result of the unique nature of remote work.
It’s free and it’s confidential. You can also remain anonymous at all times, if you wish. Calls from mobile phones to the Bush Support Services (1800 805 391) Toll Free Number can be returned at the caller’s request.
As the only medical research institute in Australia to investigate mental health across the lifespan, the Black Dog Institute’s aim is to create a mentally healthier world for everyone.
They do this through ‘translational’ research. Integrating research studies, education programs, digital tools and apps, clinical services, and public resources to discover new solutions, foster connections and create real-world change.
Black Dog have a great range of resources and support which you can trust knowing it’s research informed and recommended by professionals.
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.
If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s mental health, you can call the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for advice.
Having a tough time and need someone to talk to right now? The following services are there to listen and help you out. They are confidential and available 24/7.
- Lifeline – 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service– 1300 659 467
- MensLine– 1300 78 99 78
- Kids Help Line (for young people aged 5 to 25)– 1800 55 1800
- Domestic Violence Line – 1800 656 463
- 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
- Alcohol and Drug Information Service – 1800 250 015