Rising numbers of children are being treated for “eco-anxiety”, experts have said, as they warn parents against “terrifying” their youngsters with talk of climate catastrophe. “Their fear is of environmental doom – that we’re all going to die.”
Protests by groups such as Extinction Rebellion, the recent fires in the Amazon and apocalyptic warnings by the teenage activist Greta Thunberg have prompted a “tsunami” of young people seeking help.
A group of psychologists working with the University of Bath says it is receiving a growing volume of enquiries from teachers, doctors and therapists unable to cope.
The Climate Psychology Alliance (CPA) told The Daily Telegraph some children complaining of eco-anxiety have even been given psychiatric drugs.
The body is campaigning for anxiety specifically caused by fear for the future of the planet to be recognised as a psychological phenomenon.
However, they do not want it classed as a mental illness because, unlike standard anxiety, the cause of the worry is “rational” (sic!).
“A lot of parents are coming into therapy asking for help with the children and it has escalated a lot this summer,” said Caroline Hickman, a teaching fellow at Bath and a CPA executive.
“The symptoms are the same [as clinical anxiety], the feelings are the same, but the cause is different.
“The fear is of environmental doom – that we’re all going to die.”