Midweek Mental Greening

If you keep up with news that’s related to both your mental health and the environment, you might have stumbled across this Boston Globe piece: Climate Changes Takes a Mental Toll. In it, Emily Anthes describes the mental toll events like global warming and natural disasters can take on us. The anxiety, trauma and depression such events (and even the possibility of such events) can cause some people seriously impacts the quality of their lives.

The article is only a couple of days old, but it’s no surprise some folks are already meeting it with skepticism. American Thinker’s Matt Spivey, for example, calls it “the most illogically crazy article [he’s] seen.”

Whether it’s damage caused by climate change or the havoc wreaked by disasters like Hurricane Katrina, I don’t know why it’s so difficult to believe the possibility of our collective environment as we know spiraling out of control could deliver a blow to our psyches. I don’t know why Spivey feels that, instead of caring about what happens to our planet “in the next 100 years,” basically we should all just suck it up.

We all have our ways of dealing, I suppose.

Anthes wraps up her piece with a nod to the associate director for the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, Paul Epstein:

In the long term, we may also derive some psychological benefit from banding together with other citizens to mitigate the effects of global warming. Taking action might not only give us back a sense of our own sense of efficacy against a powerful outside force, but also help us build community and social ties that offset stress, said Epstein and other specialists.

“Getting involved can be an antidote to the depression that can come from the overwhelming realizations that we have to face . . . ,” Epstein said. “It can be empowering to realize that what you do is effective.”

Taking action is key, I believe. Sitting around and worrying has never been my thing, and I certainly don’t believe it’d be an effective way of dealing with the fear, stress and despair brought on by any current tragedy or possible future catastrophe – not just global warming.

Next week, I want to offer some tips on how to deal with these negative mental responses – how to turn them into positives or at least soften their blows – but right now, I want to know what you all think.

Despite your opinions about global warming, what are your thoughts on the mental distresses such possible events as global warming can cause us? Do you believe global warming – or any environmental upheaval, really – can substantially affect our mental health, or do your thoughts line up with Spivey’s? Is it all “illogical craziness”?