Everyone is familiar with the various adolescent problems such as depression, anxiety, love failure, societal pressure, and bullying, as well as how these issues can lead to suicide. We have seen how these topics are portrayed in films and television shows. These are, of course, significant concerns in real life. However, what many people are unaware of is that even climate change can induce psychological distress in children and adolescents.
According to a new study conducted by Dr Eric Lewandowski, a clinical associate professor at New York University, young individuals experience emotional distress as a result of climate change. Additionally, it establishes for the first time a link between emotional and behavioural problems among youth and government inaction in response to the rising situation.
Findings of the research
They examined 10,000 young people and adolescents between the ages of 16 and 25 in ten different nations, including the United States, Australia, India, Nigeria, and the Philippines. This is the very first study to examine climate fear on a massive scale.
Anxiety and worry related to the issue are affecting the ordinary lives and functioning of nearly half of the survey respondents polled (45%). They discovered that the majority of young people believe the future is terrifying and that 65 per cent felt their governments don't do enough to prevent disasters aggravated by climate change.
"Our children's concern is a fully sensible reaction, given the weak solutions to climate change they are seeing from authorities. What else does a government need to hear to act?" said Caroline Hickman, co-lead author of the study and a professor and researcher at the University of Bath.
Greta Thunberg, the world-renowned adolescent climate activist said, "Young people throughout the world are well aware that those in authority are failing us."
Previous studies done
The Lancet Planetary Health published a study on the influence of changing climate on youth psychological distress and mental health. They emphasized the potential importance of taking climatological factors into account when assessing adolescents with mental disorders.
According to the paper, annual global surface temperatures have climbed by 0.2°C every decade over the last three decades, raising worries about planetary and environmental human health. Those with a pre-existing tolerance deficiency may be unable to appropriately prepare for extreme disasters caused by climate change.
Another research article on the influence of climate change on youth and family psychological health was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Additionally, it demonstrated how climate change affecting mental health are being addressed in the research but remain under-recognized by professionals.
Elsevier published an interesting study that assessed the influence of climate change education (CCE) on teens' cognitive adaptive capacity. The research reveals that today's generation is seriously affected by the known and projected effects of human climate change than any preceding generation.
Other factors affecting mental health
The more risk factors teenagers are exposed to, the more adverse effects on their mental wellbeing are expected, says the study. Factors including low self-esteem, aggression, alcohol, nicotine, and other drug abuse, relationship troubles, ADHD, a dysfunctional family and family conflict factors enhance the chance of developing or causing teen depression.
Being homosexual, bisexual, or transgender in an unsupportive environment is one of the most visible factors in this generation. Untreated depression can lead to emotional, behavioural and health issues, as well as substance abuse, academic issues and suicide attempts.