Connecting with the Earth: Responding to the Impacts of Climate Change on Mental Health in BC Schools

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Koontz, Tensley
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In this paper, the question of what role school counsellors in BC schools should play to address the multitude of impacts climate change is having on mental health is examined. Clear and extensive links to mental health declines as a result of climate change are made (e.g., Clayton & Manning, 2018; Obradovich, 2018) and focus is put upon vulnerable groups and communities in Canada and British Columbia, school-aged children and youth in particular, to provide recommendations to schools and school counsellors in fostering mental wellbeing as it connects to climate change. The literature review further examines the available research on addressing the impacts of climate change on mental health, with attention brought to Ecopsychology and the practice of Nature-based therapy. Nature-based therapy is surveyed for its potential as both a prevention measure, in particular to cultivate resilience and self-efficacy, as well as an intervention to provide treatment for mood disorders and other impacts upon mental wellbeing connected to both acute and long-term climate change. The professional obligations of school counsellors in BC are called into question, and strong recommendations are made for training and professional development of school counsellors to become climate literate, as well as competent and comfortable in integrating Nature into their counselling practice and school communities.
British Columbia schools , climate change , ecopsychology , mental health , nature , nature-based therapy , counsellor professional development , school counsellors
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States , openAccess