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  • Rick Bonetti

Protecting the Future of Our Youth, the Planet and Future Generations

A June 2022 study on Climate Change and Youth Mental Health by the Oregon Health Authority found that "for youth who see their future lives and wellbeing at stake, the burden and weight of climate change can seem both overwhelming and unfair."

"Young people see their future at stake at decision-making tables where climate action is being debated, and yet they are not able to represent themselves at those tables. OHA’s report spotlights the effect of the enormous burden of climate change on our youth. We see their determination and resilience to make change."

"We also see a clear-eyed assessment that the adults and institutions with power over their lives are not doing enough to address the causes of climate change. The strength and resilience of youth are calling us to relentlessly step up our efforts to protect the future of our youth, the planet and future generations."

"As climate impacts grow, so have our awareness and understanding of how climate change affects our mental health and emotional well-being. Research is showing three main pathways climate change adversely affects our mental health:

  1. Increased extreme weather events and climate-related disasters

  2. Chronic climate stressors, such as water and food insecurity, and

  3. Increased awareness of climate change, leading to climate anxiety.

"Communities affected by climate-related disasters such as wildfires may experience severe psychological and emotional distress after the disaster. Disasters can damage and even destroy homes, communities and safe spaces, and disrupt services critical for meeting basic needs such as housing. The process of recovering these basic needs can take a long time. In terms of mental health outcomes and risk factors, extreme weather events and disasters are known to cause:

  • Trauma and shock; post-traumatic stress disorder

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Stress-related physical health symptoms

  • Strains in social relationships, and

  • Community displacement and migration

"In March 2020, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order (EO) 20-04 directing State Agencies to take action on climate change. The EO includes a number of general directives to state agencies, as well as three directives specific to the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The Climate and Health in Oregon 2020 report is their first deliverable."


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