In the connection between planetary crisis, citizenship and mental health, we aim to work in four main areas:
Psychopedagogy and educational psychology of climate change – working around denial, alienation and resistance to climate change phenomena and awareness
Taking from other organizations that combine climate and psychology (e.g. Climate Psychology Alliance), Ecopsi promotes the interest and use of psychology and psychotherapy as instruments for the activation of citizenship and political action across individuals and groups; this happens through the promotion of well being and psychological health in activists as well as using knowledge from psychology and psychotherapy to counter-act climate denial. Here are some of our goals:
- Encouraging environmental citizenship both through the modification of consumption habits and through citizen and political mobilization;
- Educating for emotional resilience facing the crisis;
- Encouraging scientific discussion on verified, peer-reviewed sources; helping to promote scientific knowledge pertaining the crisis;
- Combating climate pessimism, “doomism” and psychological helplessness (Seligman);
- Rising awareness of climate denial and associated psychological defences;
- Rising awareness around climate justice, that is, the contradiction by which we live in which the ones who consume the least are the most affected by Man-made climate change;
- Promoting forms of initiating and conducting dialogue around the climate crisis in a constructive and non-violent way;
Promoting training in psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals around climate change, mental health and associated psychological phenomena.
Eco-anxiety is different from other forms of anxiety (such as social anxiety or phobias) because it stems from a problem rooted in reality, i.e., something located beyond the person’s ‘psychology’. Glenn Albrecht, environmental philosopher, defines eco-anxiety as a generalized sense that the ecological foundation of existence is in a process of collapse (Albretch, 2021, p. 249)
As interventions on eco-anxiety are concerned, Ecopsi aims to:
- Organize and promote support groups by diverse people for the sharing of difficult feelings around climate change and strategies to deal with these feelings;
- Providing families with strategies for the managing of eco-anxiety in a family context;
- Organizing and promoting the training of psychologists, therapists and other professionals in the managing of eco-anxiety and emotions connected to climate grief;
- Promoting strategies for managing eco-anxiety in climate activists;
- Helping to identify eco-anxiety and associated psychological phenomena in the school context/working with it;
- Promoting practices of psychotherapy and psychological intervention which embody the knowledge gained so far on eco-anxiety and climate grief.
Support and activism – individual and group support
As the human imprint of the planet keeps increasing, not everyone feels it the same way. It is precisely the groups who are most vulnerable at a social level who will feel it the most. Sujatha Bryavan e Sudhir Chella Rajan call these phenomena ‘asymmetrical impact’, involving a greater impact in populations who are stigmatized or at a disadvantage. This impact is deeply unfair as it falls mostly upon groups who tend to use the benefits of a fossil-fuelled economy the least.
On this issue, Ecopsi holds as primary goals:
- Promoting the visibility of vulnerable populations and its active participation in the designing and co-construction of different climate agreements;
- Helping to expand the principles of inter-generational climate justice with greater access to goods and resources by different age groups;
- Creating articulated actions bringing together knowledge and practice of human rights with climate responsibility.
As far as mental health is concerned, when activism is not informed by a concern with psychological well-being and regenerative practices, it can easily lead to depressive states, depression and burn out.
Psychotherapeutic support can be an invaluable asset in promoting activist self-care and anxiety management strategies for activists. On this specific topic, we emphasize the following points as objectives from Ecopsi:
- Contributing to create a psychotherapeutic support network for activists focused on individual support, support in group situations and conflict mediation;
- Ensuring the availability of psycho-educational resources for activists in the field of self-care and mental health;
- Creating, managing and maintaining peer groups amongst activists around regenerative practices.
Frontline interventions and trauma – support in occasional or recurring situations caused by climate change (‘natural’ catastrophes and climate migration)
Glenn Albretch, environmental philosopher, has coined the term solastalgia (2021) to address a group of feelings around grief and melancholia caused by chronic and gradual deterioration of the surrounding environment. Solastalgia is a group of feelings that accompanies people living in areas subject to fires or regular droughts.
Psychology, psychotherapy and activism in collaboration can contribute not just at the level of proactive and preventative responses, but also at the level of a frontline response around events triggering solastalgia. On this topic, Ecopsi takes as its primary objectives:
- Intervening in situations of catastrophe, building and reinforcing of community connections with a view of fostering resilience in individuals, families and groups;
- Providing psychological first aid for victims of natural catastrophes in terms of psychological evaluation, psychological and psychotherapeutic support, crisis intervention and group mediation;
- Psychological first aid for victims of global pandemics in terms of psychological evaluation, support, psycho-education and crisis intervention;
- Activism directed at populations of ecological migrants/refugees with a view of claiming fundamental rights, national and international solidarity.