Climate-change anxiety rising amongst Welsh school children

Updated: Aug 23


Fears about climate change are becoming more prominent among young people in Wales, with more children seeking support on the issue.


Experts from mental health charity Place2Be, which offers counselling in schools, has said that 'eco-anxiety' concerns are growing among children.


Cliona Vaughan, a counsellor for Place2Be in South Wales, said that the rise of climate anxiety among children is due to a feeling of politicians and big business not acting quickly enough.


"They're feeling worried, trying to find ways to help sort it out at a young age," Vaughan told BBC News.


"Children shouldn't have to have this worry - they have their hopes and dreams, they want to look forward to a bright future but what's coming at them is about how there isn't much time left."


She believes that children need more support in schools to help them deal with the issue.


Welsh political party Plaid Cymru has stated that it wants new guidance for teachers to help spot the signs of climate anxiety, alongside funding for eco-projects focused on the wellbeing of pupils.


"Unless we do something to halt this sense of anxiety and unease and powerlessness [in our young people] it's only going to grow," said Delyth Jewell, a spokeswoman for the party on climate change.

Plaid Cymru has various policies to help address climate change, including a 2035 target to reach net zero emissions as well as introducing a Nature Act to restore biodiversity by 2050.


Read more: Eco-anxiety is rising in young people, driven by climate change concerns

The current Welsh government – a Labour working majority administration – says that changes it has made to school curriculums would help ‘to enable better teaching and learning about the climate emergency.'


'Eco Schools' and 'Size of Wales' are also two environment-focused charities for schools in Wales that the government has supported for several years, the former aiming to improve climate education and the latter focused on preserving an area of rainforest the size of the country.


"These programmes go further than just classroom activity, supporting children and young people to take climate action, engage with policy development and have their voices heard," said a government spokesperson.

Dr Marc Williams, a clinical psychologist at Cardiff University, recently published a paper suggesting a correlation between web searches about climate change and terms relating to mental health.


Speaking on this issue, he thinks that the reaction of children to climate change is normal and more needs to happen to address it.


"[It's] something that I don't think we should jump to pathologise," said Williams' "Climate, or eco-anxiety as some people call it, is a very normal response to a real situation.


"The government should not see this as something that is just a problem for young people - the other way of actually tackling climate anxiety is to do something about climate change."


Written by Sylvie Ward News reporter for Talking Mental Health