Climate Change is Impacting Youth Mental Health

Do you find yourself or the youth in your life feeling anxious or depressed over the idea of climate change? A new study shows this is a problem sweeping Oregon and beyond. The Oregon Health Authority just released a report, Climate Change and Youth Mental Health in Oregon, documenting the impacts of climate change on the mental health of youth (ages 15-25). This study was completed under the direction of Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04, also known as the Oregon Climate Action Plan.

The study, one of the largest in the nation to date, documents a growing youth mental health crisis in Oregon. Climate stressors, including climate anxiety, are disproportionately affecting the well-being of our youth. Highlights from the study’s findings include: 

  • ​​Climate change is harming youth mental health when directly impacted by disasters such as wildfires, extreme heat waves, and severe weather events disrupting normal life and separating people from communities.
  • 59% of youth surveyed reported feeling very worried about climate change, while 84% were moderately worried.
  • Youth reported persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, an increase of 40% amongst high school students in the last decade.
  • Between 2007 and 2018, suicide rates among youth ages 10-24 in the U.S. increased by 57%. Oregon continues to experience a higher youth suicide rate than the national average.

sign at youth climate march “Growing up comes with enough changes already, and the anxiety of climate change makes it so much worse. Our teen years should be hard, but they should also be hopeful, and as climate crises challenge us and our communities every year, it’s hard to be feel confident about even the most basic part of our futures. I wonder how the younger generations will be healthy enough to fight and solve climate change when they are breaking from the pressure of it now.” – Pheobe Wood, Hood River High School

 

The main pathways this anxiety is caused is through:

  • Increased extreme weather events and climate-related disasters;  
  • Chronic climate stressors, such as water and food insecurity; and  
  • Increased awareness of climate change, leading to climate anxiety. 

Perhaps most importantly, the study illustrates the need to center our future generations when developing climate protection policies and the need for adults to step up to address the climate crisis. Youth were engaged throughout the study to provide input, including focus groups, key informant interviews, and learnings from a community-based project. Decision-makers and policy makers can share power with youth in decisions about climate and mental health policy and solutions to increase youth’s sense of hope, belonging and agency.

A press conference with key youth interviews was held on Tuesday, June 14th. OEC worked extensively with OHA and other partners like Rogue Climate and Renew Oregon to outreach to and organize the youth voices that appeared in the press release and press conference. 

“I don’t understand why climate change is not in the forefront of every policy maker’s mind. The fact that we’re able to think about money every time we make a decision, but not climate change is completely absurd. We all see what needs to happen, why don’t they? To be honest, I’m starting to lose faith in policy makers and politicians. I wish that they would wake up and start putting our planet ahead of money.” – Anya Moore, 17, Ashland High School

Get involved: 

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Policy Climate Protection Eco-Healthy Homes Environmental Health Transportation Solutions Featured OCAP News OCAP-Page Media/PR/Statements Rural Partnerships Carbon Sequestration Agriculture Air Quality Legacy timeline
Sort by
architect in hardhat working on wiring

New Initiatives for Safe, Affordable, Climate-Friendly Homes and Buildings

The 2023 legislative session presents a vital opportunity to make progress in achieving our climate goals and protect families and communities from ever-worsening climate impacts. OEC is excited to support a “Building Resilience” policy package this session that will cut pollution and increase the climate resilience of our homes and buildings  
January 23, 2023, 9:13 pm
noraaoeconline-org

9

A farmworker carries berries in a field

Climate Protection Win for Oregon Workers

Industry plaintiffs brought two claims against rules to protect workers in Oregon from the harmful and dangerous impacts of exposure to heat and smoke. Both suits were dismissed “with prejudice” which means they were dismissed permanently and cannot be brought to Court again.   On December 20, 2022, the U.S. District Court in Medford dismissed
January 23, 2023, 8:03 pm
jamie-pang

9

Climate Victory! Oregon Clean Fuels Standard Now Strongest in the Nation

Oregon just took a huge step toward reducing climate and air pollution from our top emitting sector. The Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) today adopted an expanded Clean Fuels Program, more than tripling our existing standard to make it the strongest in the nation. See our joint press release here.
September 23, 2022, 7:44 pm
noraaoeconline-org

9

Coalition of State and National Groups Files Intervention to Defend Oregon’s Climate Protection Program Against Oil and Gas Industry Attack

For Immediate Release September 7, 2022 Salem, OR – A coalition of environmental justice, climate, and business organizations today filed a legal intervention
September 7, 2022, 9:01 pm
mcadmin

9

Traveling This Summer: Try these climate-smart travel ideas

With summer just around the corner, many people are stir-crazy, willing to tolerate a seemingly less risky variant of Covid, and ready for a vacation. Whether it’s a family reunion, catching up with old friends in faraway places, or just seeing a bit more of the world, lots of us are looking to travel this year.   Given what we’ve all been through, it’s long overdue. The pent-up demand for travel is so strong that
May 13, 2022, 10:47 pm
kevink

9

Oregon Climate Action Plan Turns Two!

Two years ago, Governor Kate Brown made history when she signed the Oregon Climate Action Plan (OCAP), executive order 20-04. It’s the largest executive action on climate in Oregon history, and arguably the biggest single climate action ever undertaken by the state given its broad sweep. OCAP set in motion a broad array of state agency activities to respond to the climate crisis by reducing climate emissions from our state’s largest polluting sec
March 11, 2022, 6:02 pm
noraaoeconline-org

9

CLIMATE VICTORY! Oregon Climate Protection Program sets the path for a healthy climate future

Oregon just took one of its biggest steps ever toward reducing climate pollution and delivering a stable climate for the future. Oregon just took one of its biggest steps ever toward reducing climate pollution and delivering a stable climate for
December 16, 2021, 2:41 am
noraaoeconline-org

9

Strengthening Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is getting closer to finalizing rules for a new Climate Protection Program. Over the past year, DEQ has made a number of positive changes to strengthen the rules; however, a few key policy design features still hang in the
August 31, 2021, 10:07 pm
noraaoeconline-org

9


No Replies to "Climate Change is Impacting Youth Mental Health"