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BPS survey highlights eco-anxiety in UK youth

05 November 2021

A survey for the British Psychological Society (BPS) shows that 29 per cent of young people (aged 18 – 24 years) believe their mental health has suffered due to concerns about climate change. 

The survey also discovered a generation gap as only 13 per cent of people aged over 55 years said they felt similarly affected.  

The findings provide more evidence to support the BPS move to engage with the climate and ecological emergency and more than half (58 per cent) of young people surveyed (aged 18-24) also thought that psychology as a profession had an important role to play helping people to take action against climate change

Tony Wainwright, Chair of the BPS Climate and Environmental Crisis Steering Group said: 

“It’s very concerning to see how much young people are reporting their mental health has been affected, and this could be very damaging in the long-term. We also know from other research that young people world-wide feel let down when they see the planet in its current predicament.  

However, it is encouraging that so many young people believe that psychology has a role in changing attitudes and behaviour. We believe that while technology is important, it is insufficient to tackle this crisis and COP26 must use psychological science to achieve the necessary and ambitious goals needed to meet the 1.5-degree ambition.

The work of many psychologists will help us to move towards social tipping points. In the end it is the way organisations operate and how people live that has brought us to this crisis, and it will be psychological changes to how organisations work and the way people live that is the road to a hopeful future."

The YouGov survey, commissioned by the BPS, had more than 2,100 respondents from across the UK. 

Key findings include:

  • 29 per cent of 18-24 year olds said their mental health has been adversely affected by climate change
  • 58 per cent of 18-24 year olds said psychology has a role to play in helping people take appropriate action.
  • 19 per cent of all respondents said their mental health has been badly affected by climate change
  • 63 per cent of people said they would like to reduce their waste to help tackle climate change
  • 38 per cent of people said they would like to insulate their home to help tackle climate change.

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