Climate Change and Mental Resiliency

During 2018-2019 EOS Eco-Energy focused on learning about climate stress and promoting mental resiliency as an adaptation to climate change. We received funding from the New Brunswick Environmental Trust Fund. Below is a summary of the project, the project report and two guides on ways to cope with climate stress.

Project Summary

Over the last decade, focus in the Memramcook-Tantramar has gone from energy sustainability to climate adaptation to emergency response to concerns now about how climate change is impacting mental health and wellbeing. Because our region is aware of climate change and has lived through various storms, floods and power outages, etc. residents are expressing various types of climate stress. In addition, our communities have sustainability, adaptation and emissions reduction plans which need to be implemented. This project focuses on activities that address climate change while also building community resiliency and wellbeing. In order to continue implementing our plans and creating a resilient Tantramar, one of the most vulnerable areas in the province to flooding, we need to address not only the wellbeing of the climate but the wellbeing of local residents to address climate change. Residents must remain engaged, hopeful & mentally resilient.

The goals of the project included:

  1. Increase public awareness of climate change issues and solutions
  2. Learn more about climate change and mental health in Tantramar
  3. Create New Brunswick-focused guides to dealing with climate stress
  4. Reduce emissions while increasing adaptation & community resiliency
  5. Increase climate change collaboration at the regional level

We combined literature research, talking with local mental health professionals and information gathered from EOS to create two guides for coping with climate stress, one for adults and one for teens. The guides focus on approaches for self-care and also community action. We learned more about the occurrence of climate change related stress in our region from a local survey and from information gathered on our event evaluation forms and from event discussions. People are experiencing a range of emotions from frustration and anger to hopelessness, guilt, fear and loneliness. We increased public awareness of climate change issues including the importance of mental resiliency through information booths, school visits, workshops and Tantramar Climate Change Week 2019. We reduced emissions directly at a draft-proofing workshop and increased adaptation and community resiliency through our workshops on traditional skills including ham radio and wild edibles. We continued to foster collaboration by coordinating the Chignecto Climate Change Collaborative (formerly the Tantramar Climate Change Adaptation Collaborative). This year’s discussion on managed retreat brought the Collaborative closer together as we shared our feelings, concerns and hopes about retreat while exploring what role the Collaborative could have including public education. The Collaborative has become a time and place to build trust, creating a safe space for meaningful and respectful discussions about challenging topics like retreat.

Spending time in nature can help reduce climate stress and eco anxiety.

Resources for coping with climate stress:

Ways to Cope with Climate Stress for Teens

Climate Change and Mental Resiliency Guide for Adults

Project reports:

Climate Change and Mental Health Final Report 2019

Climate Stress Workshop Report