14 Sep 2020, 13:50
Benjamin Wehrmann

Climate crisis takes heavy toll on mental health, psychotherapists' association says

dpa / Süddeutsche Zeitung

Climate change is having a hard impact on many people's mental health, Sabine Maur, president of the German Psychotherapist Association (DPtV) in federal state Rhineland-Palatinate told news agency dpa in an article carried by the Süddeutsche Zeitung. "Climate change and the associated, scientifically proven existential risks can lead to a large number of mentally charging emotions," Maur said. Many people are experiencing "fear and a strong sense of individual powerlessness, an inability to do anything about it”, she argued, adding that fear for the future of one's children is also having a strong effect on the way people are processing information about global warming and increasing extreme weather situations in their home country and around the world. These fears are also widespread among people working in the health sector, including doctors, therapists or nurses, who also often back the Fridays for Future climate protests, Maur said. She said mental health problems already are the second biggest reason for early retirements in Germany, arguing that a national mental health strategy is needed to prevent larger damage on people's psyche. "This problem cannot be solved by psychotherapists. That's where policymakers are needed."

Worries about global warming have been spurred by two consecutive years of extreme heat and prolonged droughts in Germany and lead the list of concerns of people in Germany even as the coronavirus pandemic is disrupting social life and the economy. Climate protests calling for more ambitious emissions reduction have been widespread in the country and are also seen as a decisive factor in the country's upcoming parliamentary elections in autumn 2021.

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