Encouraging youth activism to combat climate change and reduce eco-anxiety

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Authors: Lexi Nutkiewicz, Aminah Habib, Miguel Duenas, Lorely Ruiz, Gwendolyn Hoff Anderson, and Kelly L’Engle
Page Range: 353-370
Published in: International Public Health Journal, 15#4 (2023)
ISSN: 1947-4989

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT

Climate change is an ongoing public health crisis. Efforts to reverse climate change and protect future generations’ physical and mental health are more urgent than ever. Youth are particularly vulnerable to a form of anxiety related to stress or distress caused by awareness of environmental changes, termed eco-anxiety. We conducted a scoping review to better understand the value of youth climate change activism as a strategy to combat climate change and mitigate eco-anxiety. Our review highlights risk factors for eco-anxiety among adolescents and gaps in the literature, considers the benefits and drawbacks of youth activism, and discusses models and strategies to promote youth engagement in climate change activism. To identify relevant literature, we searched a variety of databases, related research suggested by database algorithms, reference lists of resulting literature, and grey literature sources such as global reports and governmental resources. We summarize the findings on eco-anxiety and activism, and we provide recommendations for future research to inform effective public health practices and policy. As we shift our focus to the societal impacts of climate change, it is critical that we elevate the recognition of eco-anxiety as a reality and develop strategies to protect young people and their future.

Keywords: Adolescents, activism, climate change, eco-anxiety, youth, United States

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