On Tuesday 16th November, the interactive “Healthy minds, healthy climate” webinar took place, providing participants with the space to share their feelings about the climate crisis, particularly in the wake of COP26, and to learn ways to cultivate hope and resilience moving forward.
The webinar kicked off with an activity facilitated by Dr. Sally Gillespie from Psychology for a Safe Climate, where participants met in small groups to discuss their feelings post-COP, and what sustains or challenges them in their climate work. You can find Sally describing the value of this exercise in terms of tuning in to yourself and others through reflective conversation and deep listening, as well as group feedback facilitated through Padlet in the video below . You can find the anonymised Padlet responses here. Feelings post-COP included many negative emotions such as disappointment, frustration and anger, while some said they were still hopeful and determined. Challenges to climate work ranged from personal concerns such as self-doubt and fear, to broader issues around government and public awareness. In terms of what sustains, there were recurring themes of community, collective action, nature, connection and young people. Participants described the activity as cathartic, encouraging, normalising, refreshing and supportive.
Next up was a presentation by Dr. Susie Burke, who in working with people dealing with the existential distress of climate change, has found a useful model which looks at three types of coping strategies: emotion-focussed, problem-focussed and meaning-focussed. For each type of coping strategy, Susie provided examples of how to engage in and practice them.
Sally then came back to facilitate an activity on self-care and burnout, first discussing the wider cultural context we are embedded in and concepts around sustainable activism. An interactive activity using the ‘healthy mind platter’ was conducted on Padlet, exploring seven essential daily mental health activities - connecting time, down time, physical time, sleep time, focus time, play and time in. You can find the anonymised Padlet responses here (from page 3).
Kaz Uy, a Community Organiser at Tipping Point, then presented a case-study of how Tipping Point is working towards incorporating Anti-Oppression, Justice and Inclusion (AoJI) and healthy work principles in their team to help cultivate a group culture that is sustaining and reflective of community care and accountability.
To close the presentations, Dr. Tristan Snell from Deakin University spoke on the benefits of nature for mental health and wellbeing, including relevant theories and how contact with nature relates to coping with climate change.
We hope that the concepts and strategies provided in this webinar will help people stay engaged in climate work and keep the momentum moving towards a better future; in the words of author and activist, Arundhati Roy: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
You can watch the full recording of the webinar here.