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What is eco-anxiety? Heidi Murphy learns about the new mental health buzzword

3AW Mornings

A new term, eco-anxiety, has been coined to describe the stress Australians have been experiencing due to the country’s environmental crisis.

To find out exactly what eco-anxiety is, 3AW’s Heidi Murphy spoke with Professor Deborah Turnbull, chair in psychology at Adelaide University and an expert in climate change distress.

Press PLAY to hear the full explanation 

Professor Turnbull clarified eco-anxiety is not a diagnosable disorder.

“It gives us a useful framework to think about how people may be thinking and reasonably reacting in these unusual times,” she explained to 3AW Mornings.

The concept refers to people who are indirectly affected by the fires because they’ve been “seeing and observing things going on either in their local community or in the media”.

She described possible symptoms as feeling numb, overwhelmed, and feeling angry about Australia’s environmental situation.

“It is important to flag we are in unusual times and it’s ok not to be ok,” Professor Turnbull told Heidi Murphy.

“If people are feeling uneasy and anxious around this time, it’s a normal and rational response”.

Professor Turnbull says the best way to approach eco-anxiety is to change the way we behave and how we think about things.

“Staying connected and talking about your feelings is important, and maintaining pleasant activities,” as well as being aware of your emotions are among Professor Turnbull’s recommendations.

If in three of four months time, if people are still not feeling well, Professor Turnbull says it might be time to check in with the doctor.

3AW Mornings
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