Deakin University

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Exploring the impact of climate change on Australian youth mental health

conference contribution
posted on 2021-02-12, 00:00 authored by Tristan SnellTristan Snell
Presentation Overview:
This presentation will begin by discussing the various ways that climate change is currently, and will continue to, impact on the mental health of young Australians. Mechanisms including anxiety about future changes, trauma relating to changes that have occurred, and long-term issues such as social and environmental displacement will be discussed. This theory will be substantiated by new data derived from a national survey on climate change and mental health, which included 5000 participants in total, and 300 Australian youth between the ages of 18-24. This survey included questions relating to location, experience of trauma related to bushfire, eco-anxiety, mental health help seeking, attitudes toward mental health help seeking, effective coping strategies, and a new inventory of pre-traumatic stress. Qualitative responses will also be summarized to provide the audience with a range of common experiences of Australian youth in regard to the impact of climate change. The presentation will conclude with a range of ways that psychologists working with youth might support clients who present with mental health issues that are a result of anxiety, grief, and trauma related to climate change.

Learning Outcomes:
The audience will learn about how climate change impacts on the mental health of Australians, and why youth are particularly vulnerable to these impacts. They will understand how individuals cope with these impacts, including attitudes toward mental health help seeking, and which strategies are more or less effective. The audience will also find out which populations are more or less vulnerable to these impacts. The presentation will also provide suggestions on how to support participants who present with anxiety about climate change.

Content Warning:
Some of the content from this presentation, including noting the potentially traumatic experiences of bushfire and other climate related natural disasters, might be traumatic for some audience members with similar experiences. Participants will be advised at the start of the presentation that this content will be noted, and the presentation will not go into any detail about the specifics/content of any traumatic experiences. The audience will also be made aware of free supports available at the start and end of the presentation should they wish to seek support relating to any mental health issues they become aware of as a result of the presentation (i.e. Blueknot Foundation, Beyondblue, National Bushfire Recovery Agency).



2021 APS College of Educational and Developmental Psychologists Virtual Conference


Australian Psychological Society



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E3 Extract of paper

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Future directions in educational and developmental psychology

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