SU students and professors discuss the mental health outcome of climate change studies

SU students and professors discuss the mental health outcome of climate change studies

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Content Warning: This story contains mentions of suicides, domestic violence, and substance abuse.

Sarah Braal often finds herself considering the possibility of her young daughter choosing not to have children due to the harmful effects of climate change.

said Brall, professor of political science at Maxwell College at Syracuse University on Citizenship and Public Affairs.

The negative psychological effects of global climate change, such as anxiety and feelings of helplessness, are felt by those who study this phenomenon at SU.



Aside from her concerns about future generations, Braal also said that she sometimes takes a break from environmental news for a few days in order to take a “mental break” from a topic she said can be overwhelming.

Dominic Wilkins, a doctoral student who studies geography and ecology at Maxwell, also expressed concern about climate change.

He said, “(It could) send you down a whirlpool or … a rabbit hole as you realize and you recognize just another way some people somewhere caused some kind of destruction.”

Wilkins believes that looking at crises throughout history can provide insight into the impact of climate change.

“People have been struggling with conditions and dealing with disasters that are far worse than many people will end up dealing with, simply because of certain histories and the power and engineering dynamics in which they were living,” Wilkins said.

Nearly 40% of 16- to 25-year-olds said climate change has made them reluctant to have children, and more than 75% of them feel the future is daunting, according to exploratory study By The Lancet Planetary Health in December 2021.

December 2021 Report He noted that an increasing number of people, particularly in low-income and non-white communities, are experiencing negative mental health symptoms due to the effects of climate change.

Surya Vidi, who studies environment, sustainability and politics at Maxwell, said negativity is holding back progress.

“But there is also a feeling of powerlessness like this that is ingrained in society, and that is the well-established pattern of what is being done,” he said.

Vaidy said taking action is a way to combat climate anxiety, even if it simply means becoming more knowledgeable or discussing climate change with peers.

surya vaidy drawing quote pull

Stephanie Zassou | Design Editor

Chi Sakakibara, associate professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at SU Maxwell, has it Search The Alaskan Inupiat tribe – a group of about 750 indigenous people who have lived off the Alaskan tundra for thousands of years – for more than 18 years. In the 1970s, she said, the Inupia people migrated inland to escape rising sea levels.

Sakakibara explained that the tribe is currently studying resettlement again due to the rising sea level and the decreasing number of wild animals around it. Recently, she Discover Higher rates of suicide, domestic abuse, and substance abuse within the Inupiat community, but remain optimistic.

Sakakibara said the Inupiat make their voice heard. The tribe sends delegates to international climate change summits, influencing policy makers in Alaska and collaborating with other indigenous tribes such as the Inuit in Canada to increase their visibility.

“I feel…the stress that people are going through right now,” she said. “But at the same time, this is an exciting time for the community to really start building a network with other indigenous communities in the world.”

Echoing similar sentiments, Vaidy recalled one of his former professors’ advice about hope.

“Hope is an active process,” Faidi said. “We have to work on it, we have to actively participate and continue to educate ourselves.”

Editor’s note: Surya Fede is a photographer for the Daily Orange. It does not affect the editorial content of the news department as a photographer.

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