Young people who feel “hopeless and paralysed” by fears about climate change need help and support, mental health experts have said.

Place2Be – a charity offering counselling in schools – said the issue was becoming “more and more prominent”.

Plaid Cymru said it wanted new guidance for teachers and funding for eco projects focused on pupils’ wellbeing.

The Welsh government said changes it had made to the curriculum would help.

While the physical dangers posed by climate change are now widely-reported, the potential impact on people’s mental health has not had as much attention.

But Cliona Vaughan, a counsellor who works as school project manager for Place2Be in south Wales, said children’s climate anxiety was brought about by a sense that politicians and big business were not acting quickly enough.

She said one child told her: “We need to find another planet.”

She added: “They’re feeling worried, trying to find ways to help sort it out at a young age.”

Ms Vaughan said it got more problematic when children got older as “they can feel, at times, the future is hopeless”.

“Children shouldn’t have to have this worry – they have their hopes and dreams, they want to look forward to a bright future but what’s coming at them is about how there isn’t much time left.”

She said children needed empowering support in schools to help them deal with climate anxiety.


What do young people think?

“I definitely think it’s been on the rise amongst my peers,” said 16-year-old Poppy, who chairs the Youth Climate Ambassadors for Wales programme.
“From my perspective as a climate activist, I do face climate anxiety – but in a way that empowers me to act.”

Leo,16, another member of the group, added: “The most soul-crushing thing is not being optimistic about [climate change].

“It’s something I’m quite worried about that isn’t going to be sorted fast enough. We’re already seeing effects at the moment. Not enough is being done.”

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