Keeping the Future in Mind (KTFIM)
Climate change affects mental wellbeing through complex and interrelated pathways. Young people are particularly at risk of the psychological burdens of climate anxiety, fear and distress. However, young people are also motivated to act on climate change which can promote a sense of agency and hope. Researchers from IHT’s Health, Nature, Sustainability Research Group and GLOBE teamed up (with a seed grant from IHT/SHSD) to implement the Keeping the Future in Mind (KTFIM) project. The aim was to map (using systems dynamics and STiCKE software technology) the drivers of climate-related mental wellbeing, as well as actions and priorities to improve mental wellbeing of young people aged 18-24 years in Australia.
Study participants vividly evoked the experience of young people; the sense of fear and powerlessness linked to not having a voice, not having their concerns acknowledged or acted upon, and feeling that the onus is on them to manage a climate-changed and uncertain future. On the flipside, they also identified positive drivers such as social media as a catalyst for promoting wellbeing by providing a connection to a community of shared values and climate action; connection to nature as well as having a voice and role in decision-making.
The short report sets out a range of recommendations for action including generating further research and evidence to increase local government and NGO capacity to raise awareness of young people’s climate-related wellbeing, and co-design interventions with young people.