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To Sam

Climate change

dear Sam,

I know this sounds really stupid but i’m really struggling right now with my mental health linked to climate change. I‘ve had anxiety for a couple of years now and recently its been spiralling out of control and turning into depression. I just feel so hopeless and alone at the moment, which is why i created an account on childline. i know its not going to be a cure or magically fix my worries but being an only child in a family where my parents are always contemplating leaving eachother, i constantly feel like ive got no one to talk to. Recently, climate change has made my anxiety completely spiral out of control, having panic attacks every other day and constantly falling into depressed states where i feel like i can‘t escape (its not directly suicidal thoughts, just my fight or flight mode really edging on flight). Constantly hearing about how the “world is doomed” or how people are now preventing having children is really really scary for me, and it has got to the point where i cant enjoy sunny or overly rainy days without thinking about how the planet is dying. Ive looked at other peoples coping strategies and advice, revolving around getting involved in protests and vegan based diets but i feel so powerless and upset right now as if im almost paralysed. Im really scared for the future and constantly feel like the way that things are going, we have absolutely no hope at all. i know that my panic attacks are a normal part of anxiety and have been with me for ages now, but when a panic attack is caused by something that no one knows the answer to and cant be solved or talked out, i dont know how to fix them.

Ask Sam

Sam

Hi there,

Sometimes there are big things going on in the world that we feel we don’t have control over. Everyone’s affected by it in different ways but there are things you can do to manage anxiety about climate change.

Social media and the news are good ways to keep up with what’s happening but can become too much sometimes. It can be scary to see things in the media and if you’re feeling worried or like it’s affecting your mental health it can help to take a break from it. Not reading the news doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the problem, but your mental health comes first.

There are small things everyone can do to help the environment. These include: being careful about how much plastic we use, reusing it where possible and recycling it when we can’t re-use it. Using less energy by switching off lights and devices when you’re not using them can also help. You could walk or ride your bike instead of using public transport or getting a lift in a car. Up-cycling is a great way to help. Try using old tins as plant pots, jam jars as candle holders and finding ways to donate things can help the environment and help others who have less than you do.

These are all small things you can do while you’re taking a break from the news. Doing something, no matter how small, can help you to feel better. And if enough people do it, then it can make a big difference. Ask your friends to join you and inspire each other with photos of things you’ve donated or recycled. And you could get involved with bigger projects. Try volunteering for a local nature reserve or parks or apply for work experience or a work placement with an environmental project or litter collecting scheme.

Thinking about the future of the planet can seem like a huge responsibility for you as a young person but doing what you can and accepting there are things you can’t influence or control directly can help with anxiety.

There are plenty of people who care about the planet and are fighting for it on your behalf, so until you feel ready to do that you need to put your own mental health first. Remember our Childline counsellors are always here if you want to talk.

Thanks for your letter.

Take care,

Sam

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