Students suffering ‘grief’ over climate change offered counselling by University of East Anglia
The University of East Anglia (UEA) is beginning to offer its students counselling to combat their grief over the climate change crisis.
UEA have said that eco-anxiety is the: “Direct result of the feelings of grief and distress stemming from the knowledge of climate concerns and its psychological impact”.
Scientists’ research suggests that eco-anxiety is a condition spreading swiftly amongst young people across the world. UEA have introduced a “mindfulness” class to help reduce this stress on its students.
The course has been developed alongside the mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind. It will consist of six weekly sessions taking two hours each.
Research at UEA, conducted by Mark Tebboth and Professor Roger Few, investigates the locations and populations most at risk of solastalgia: the sadness that one feels when one’s home becomes lost. The university has identified its close proximity to the Norwich coast, which is susceptible to corrosion, as being a contributor to high levels of eco-anxiety amongst students.
A UEA spokesperson said: “More widespread support for eco-anxiety has been developed in response to local needs in Norfolk, where people are becoming acutely conscious of rising sea levels as local coastal communities experience dramatic coastal erosion”.
Coastal erosion, caused by climate change, has a significant impact on the shoreline of Norfolk. It is one of the most impacted areas in the UK. Happisburgh is at the top of the list for most at risk towns. Houses there that were once 20ft from the sea are now sat on cliff edges.
The Lancet published a paper in 2021 that discussed the concern from young people about the climate crisis. Data was collected from ten thousand people aged 16-25 from a variety of countries, including the UK.
When surveyed, 45% spoke as to how climate change “negatively affected their daily life and functioning.”
The course at UEA was described on its webpage as giving support in “cultivating resilience in the midst of the climate crisis”.
Another event that UEA run in collaboration with the Norfolk and Waveney Mind charity is a monthly Climate Café where students can drink tea and discuss their experiences and anxieties around climate change.
The events are all being ran free of charge to UEA students to show support to those who are struggling with this progressing crisis.