During 2019-2020 EOS Eco-Energy was awarded funding from the Sackville Hospital Foundation to offer a series of workshops on managing climate change stress and eco-anxiety which aimed to help in the prevention of more serious and costly mental health interventions. The need for such workshops came about because EOS realized that climate change issues can be mentally taxing, but that we also can’t give up hope, tune out or burn out. We need everyone engaged in order to address climate change and be truly resilient. People are worried about the dykes, floods, storms, power outages, and some are stressed from repair costs, burnout, what to tell their children, if their house has any value, if they should move, etc. Others feel a sense of trauma and sadness at the loss of spaces, species, and the familiar climate. Many feel isolated in their concerns and worries and do not have support from their family, spouse, friends. There are many social media sites where people can connect but that is not the same, or as helpful or meaningful as connecting in person. Research by Mount Allison University students for EOS found that local people are feeling stress, anxiety, fear, anger, fatigue, isolated, grief, guilt, helplessness, despair, sadness, etc. EOS partnered with IRIS Community Counselling and designed a workshop offering tips and strategies to reduce and manage climate stress. After a highly successful pilot in winter/spring 2019, the need for more workshops was very clear. Thus this past year together with IRIS Community Counselling, EOS hosted 7 workshops, including two specifically for youth.
The goals of the project were to:
- Increase the mental resiliency of the Tantramar community (adults and youth) related to climate change;
- Provide coping tools and strategies related to climate change and mental health in order to reduce stress and anxiety and prevent larger interventions;
- Provide a safe and supportive space for those suffering the mental impacts of climate change alone (ie. reduce feelings of isolation); and
- Provide opportunity for community members to connect and help each other work toward community- based climate action(s).
In addition, our project addressed the following Tantramar Area Community Needs Assessment priority areas:
6.1 A decrease in mental resiliency and coping skills in children and youth in the Community.
6.2 The need for support staff in the community to help coordinate and implement prevention/health promotion type programming, particularly in outer rural communities
Read the Final Report: