Incorporate a Trauma-Informed Approach

Climate change impacts, such as more intense wildfires, floods, droughts, and hurricanes, can be life-threatening and result in significant damages, causing trauma and trauma-related mental health reactions for individuals, families, and communities. violence) and chronic stress (e.g., due to poverty) may be particularly susceptible to the effects of climate-change related disasters. Disaster exposure can trigger prior traumatic events and cause compounding distress. Additionally, as detailed in the "climate change effects on mental health" section, anxiety, anger, and hopelessness about future impacts of climate change can also have significant impacts on mental health.

Creating a trauma-informed learning environment in which climate change is addressed directly will reduce the potential for harm and increase the effectiveness of learning. The following strategies build on work by SAMHSA.

Learn to recognize trauma-related reactions and be conscious of potential triggers

                Resources:

Create a safe, caring, and welcoming environment

                  Resources:

Build trust through transparency 

                  Resources:

Identify and reinforce examples of positive peer support 

                  Resources:

  • Emotional Resilience Toolkit for Climate Work from the Climate Therapy Alliance includes facilitated discussions and activities designed to build emotional resilience for climate work, categorized by age group.   
  • Action for the Climate Emergency has started a "Let's Talk about It and Speak Your #Climate Truth" campaign where youth can talk about their climate anxiety and fears or share tips and inspiration with others through social media.   

See the Join and Create Community page and the Listen and Validate Feelings page for more resources.

Acknowledge strengths, encourage youth voice and choice 

                  Resources:

See the Encourage and Take Action page for more resources.

Challenge stereotypes and biases, acknowledge oppression 

                  Resources:

See the Climate Mental Health Justice page for more resources.