Climate Mental Health


For mental health support activities on using social, emotional, and positive coping skills, please see the Emotions Wheel, Nature Appreciation, Connecting with Special Places in Nature, Visioning Possibility, Facilitating Discussions and Creating Solidarity, and Active Listening Skills

Support youth in identifying and expressing their feelings

Encourage youth to name what they are feeling. For younger children, use emotion charts or scales. Reassure students it is normal to feel these emotions. Use art and journaling as a medium to express emotions related to climate change.

Facilitate empathy with others

Use empathy maps to help youth understand what others are feeling. This may be especially helpful when trying to understand different perspectives. Use role-play to encourage perspective-taking.

Encourage self-compassion

Encourage youth to have self-compassion and find balance. Encourage youth to give themselves and others permission to enjoy their lives- they can't solve all problems all the time. Practice grace for themselves and for other generations who have impacted the climate with their lifestyle.

Help youth tolerate ambiguity  

Help students tolerate ambiguity around climate topics by encouraging them to ask questions and listen actively, stay calm and in the moment, try on other perspectives about future possibilities, assess risks, rely on what they do know, and use their creativity to explore new ideas. Support youth in focusing on the things that they can control and letting go of the things they can't.

Practice meditation and mindfulness with youth  

Use and encourage self-soothing practices, like taking slow deep breaths in and out, and reminding youth of all the people around the world working on solving the challenges around our changing climate. Encourage youth to focus on the present, pay attention to the breath or the surroundings and practice guided meditations.

Vision with youth about a resilient future  

Work with youth on developing a vision of what a realistic resilient future looks like in which individuals and communities are resilient. Prioritize the celebration of Earth Day and other events that celebrate our planet to show the importance and future of Earth.

Practice gratitude with youth  

Have youth reflect on what they are grateful for in our world.  What parts of the natural world are they grateful for? Who are they grateful for? This could be others working on solutions. What brings them hope for the future? After discussions about climate, ask everyone to write something they appreciate about another person and have them share.

Take students out in nature  

Time in nature is an antidote for stress and can create positive well-being. Take youth into nature, encourage free play in nature, which can help calm anxieties, or have youth meditate or journal in nature. Encourage parents to let their children play in nature.

Guide discussions around resilience  

Discussing resilience and solutions can instill hope. Guide discussions on adaptation and resilience with youth. Youth can be guided to build self-resilience around climate topics by following these strategies from the American Psychological Association:

  • fostering caring, trusting relationships that provide support and encouragement 
  • not viewing problems as unsolvable 
  • making achievable goals and moving steadily toward them 
  • looking at problems in a wider context 
  • practicing good self-care and focusing on a positive self-image 
  • keeping personal connections with places and cultural ties when possible 
  • avoiding isolation and trying to connect with like-minded people