Canada: Growing 'ecological grief' is the mental health cost of climate change


By Duncan McCue 


As Canadians cope with more catastrophic weather events, and the long-term effects of climate change gradually intensify, mental health experts say more Canadians will be afflicted by a psychological phenomenon known as "ecological grief."

"It's the grief that's felt in relation to either experienced or anticipated ecological loss, whether it's due to acute environmental issues or long, chronic, creeping changes," said Ashlee Cunsolo, director of the Labrador Institute at Memorial University.

"We [need to] consider climate policy within the framework of ecological grief, and within the framework of mental health and all of these other losses that are often hidden and hard to account for."


The research suggests climate-related ecological losses trigger grief experiences in multiple ways, including people grieving for lost landscapes, ecosystems, species, or places that carry personal or collective meaning.


[Katie Hayes, a researcher at the University of Toronto] suggests there's often an infusion of mental health resources to a community in the immediate aftermath of a weather disaster, but that long-term mental health care will be needed to address ongoing ecological grief.


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