Today’s young climate activists are driven by environmental worries that are increasingly more urgent, and more personal. Recent polling shows that 75% of people in their teens to mid-20s say climate change is affecting their mental health. Nearly 40% of this generation say addressing climate change is their highest personal concern. Some amount of anxiety is a natural response to climate change, according to Susan Clayton, a professor of psychology at the College of Wooster and member-at-large of the American Psychology Association board of directors. For decades, though, many environmentalists have resisted prioritizing their own mental health. In 2018, Greenpeace International began a major study on why so many of their activists were working themselves past their limits. Campaign manager Agus Maggio explains that many local volunteers and leaders had bought into a kind of “martyr culture.” Greenpeace and other leading environment groups, including the Sierra Club and the Sunrise Movement, have begun urging volunteers and staff to take breaks, unplug or even limit the scope of their activism for the sake of mental health.
By Alex Smith. KCUR. October 8, 2021.