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UBC grad student launches toolkit to tackle climate anxiety

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A graduate student at the University of British Columbia has launched a toolkit to help the growing number of people dealing with climate anxiety.

As several severe weather events hit B.C. hard in 2021, experts began noticing troubling trends.

"Studies have shown that people between the ages of 10 to 26 actually have very high levels of mental distress due to climate change,” Natania Abebe told CTV News.

Abebe, a UBC grad student, registered nurse and mental-health advocate, says he started noticing this herself while working as a teaching assistant for a course about the health impacts of climate change.

"A lot of the students that were in the course were experiencing high levels of distress,” Abebe said.

With that in mind, Abebe worked with fellow students and faculty experts at UBC, ultimately creating an educational toolkit called Exploring Climate Change and Mental Health for those struggling.

The toolkit includes a short documentary featuring students as well as experts from various cultural backgrounds discussing ecological change and climate anxiety.

“In the documentary we go in-depth in what we call earth emotions, eco-grief, eco-anxiety and eco-paralysis,” Abebe said.

“After people watch the documentary they have this toolkit where they can dive deeper into the emotions they resonate most with,” she added.

Abebe says it’s meant to provide people an avenue to work through their emotions, but also to be more sustainable in their every day life.

"I think if we just all come together and realize that this is normal and that there are ways to cope with it then we're more likely to be able to engage in more sustainable behaviours,” Abebe said.

“I feel like in documentaries we talk about big things, but then it just leaves the audience on their own, but I think it’s important to follow up on what you watch to see what you can actually do about it.”

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