A group modelled very loosely on Alcoholics Anonymous (with nine steps, rather than 12) has begun holding regular weekly meetings in a suburb of Salt Lake City, helping members from millennials to grandparents deal with their sadness and fears about climate change, National Public Radio reports.
Local landscaper Dick Meyer came to the group, Good Grief, to relieve anxiety and a sense of being overwhelmed by his thoughts on climate. “I came to the conclusion that it was the loss of the future—the future that I had lived knowing was going to be there [and] all of a sudden is gone,” he said. “That is really disorienting.” He finds the support group helps him cope with those emotions.
“The idea has drawn interest in other states,” NPR reports. In California, the state university at Humboldt recognizes “eco-grief” in a course offering on coping. In Washington, DC, psychiatrist and climate activist Lise Van Susteren said her friends and patients have climate anxiety. “Every single day, we are told about what disasters are just around the corner,” she said. “And this is being processed, whether we know it consciously or not.”
(No word on whether a dual focus on the anxiety of climate change and the accelerating pace of climate solutions can help balance despair with a call to action. — Ed.)
Last month, the American Psychological Association released a report examining the impacts of climate on mental health, and suggesting strategies for dealing with them. And earlier this month, CBC reported on the long shadow of emotional stress for survivors of last year’s climate change-fueled mega-fire that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray, Alberta.