Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Most Americans Feel Anxious About Climate Change, APA Poll Finds

Almost 60% of adults in the United States agree that climate change is impacting the health of Americans, according to an APA poll released today. More than half of those surveyed reported feeling anxious about the effects of climate change on the planet, with a greater percentage of younger adults expressing concerns about the planet than older adults.

The findings are from APA’s Healthy Minds Monthly, a poll conducted by Morning Consult. The poll was conducted online from March 19 to 21 among a nationally representative sample of 2,210 adults. Data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, educational attainment, age, race, and region

“When you read about an ice shelf the size of the island of Manhattan breaking off Antarctica, it’s a very tangible, dramatic representation of climate change’s impact,” APA President Vivian Pender, M.D., said in a media release. “But there are so many unseen mental health impacts as well, whether it’s in the anxiety over our children and grandchildren’s future, or the trauma to those who are physically displaced by fires or violent storms.”

Additional findings from the poll include the following:

  • Younger adults appear to be more anxious about climate change than older adults: Of those aged 18 to 34, 66% reported feeling anxious about the effects of climate change on the planet compared with 50% of adults 65 years and older. Additionally, 51% of respondents aged 18 to 34 were anxious about the impact of climate change on their mental health compared with 24% of respondents 65 years and older.
  • Adults aged 18 to 34 were also more likely to say they believed climate change was already impacting the mental health of Americans (57%) compared with adults 65 years or older (41%).
  • Women (56%), 18 to 34-year-olds (59%), and Democrats (69%) were especially likely to report feeling anxious when thinking about the possible impact of climate change on future generations. Additionally, respondents in the western United States were more likely than respondents from other regions of the country to feel anxious about the impact climate change could have on future generations.
  • Adults were split on how frequently stories and headlines about climate change affect their mood—with 49% of adults aged 18 to 34 years reporting such stories affect their mood at least some compared with 35% of adults 65 years or older.
  • The majority of those surveyed (53%) reported that they believe that climate change is caused by human activity.

“Climate change is a public health emergency, and we can’t neglect mental health when we call it out,” said APA Committee on Climate Change Chair Elizabeth Haase, M.D. “Our care for the planet is our care for ourselves, and by taking action we help ourselves with its mental health effects.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric Services article “Climate Change and Mental Health: Implications for the Psychiatric Workforce” and the Psychiatric News article “Generation Climate Change: Growing Up With Ecological Grief and Anxiety.” APA also has a video that describes how climate change and related disasters cause anxiety-related responses as well as chronic and severe mental health disorders.

(Image: iStock/leonello)

APA to Launch New Version of Its Website This Week

Over the last two years, APA has worked on a major update of its website to improve its content, search engine, and accessibility for people with disabilities. In addition, the look of the website has been refreshed, and the main menu has been streamlined to reduce the number of “clicks” a user needs to find information.

Website traffic has grown tremendously over the last several years, driving the need to update the site. The number of pageviews has increased from 6.3 million in 2016 (the date of the last website redesign) to 40 million. The updated website will ensure that APA continues to respond to the expanding informational needs of members and provides accurate information about mental health to patients and families.


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.