Eco Comment – Mental Health Week

17 May 2024

This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week. (13-19th May). The theme this year is Movement: moving more for your mental health.

‘Regular physical activity is known to improve mental health, quality of life, and wellbeing. It also helps prevent and treat heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and breast and colon cancer, and more. Movement is a great way to embrace our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10minutes brisk walking can boost our mood and increase our mental alertness and energy. Movement makes us feel better about our bodies and improve self-esteem. It can also reduce stress and anxiety and help us sleep better.’ So says the Mental Health Foundation.

Research suggests that one of the best places for doing movement is of course in an outdoor ‘green’ environment. This has greater positive effects on our wellbeing compared to doing activity indoors. Even if you live in the city, nature is often close by. Parks, gardens, nature reserves and forests all provide opportunities for exercise, movement and meeting new people. Suggestions include joining a walking group, a gardening club, or volunteering for woodland or park maintenance.

If you were out and about, you might consider helping Just Transition Nature Watch which is asking for help in mapping the nature in our district. This is a citizen science project which has been created to map nature throughout the Wakefield district. They are asking groups, families, schools, and individuals to help them. Anyone and everyone can join in. All you have to do is sign up to the iNaturalist platform and submit records of the plants, animals, insects and more that you encounter via the website or the mobile app. Visit the Just Transition Wakefield Nature Watch project page on iNaturalist to see what has been recorded in the district already.

Just Transition Wakefield are addressing another Mental Health issue through their Families Together group. Last year I mentioned finding out about Eco Anxiety/Eco Grief (Eco Comment 21.6.23) and how it is affecting so many of our young people. Since then a lot of work has been done in various fields to help sufferers.

What is climate anxiety?

Psychotherapist Caroline Hickman, University of Bath describes it in a BBC report from January 15th 2024.
‘Climate anxiety, or eco anxiety, is the healthy distress that we feel when we look at what is happening in our changing world. We are facing personal and planetary threats from our rapidly changing climate. And it causes us to feel anxious and afraid for our own and our children’s futures.

It is not just anxiety, but also sadness, depression, grief, despair, anger, frustration and confusion. We often have moments of hope or optimism, but this can be hard to hold on to as we are heading rapidly in the wrong direction and not taking sufficient steps to slow down the climate crisis.’

Whilst this might sound extreme she argues that climate anxiety is a healthy response to the climate crisis. She also advises anyone experiencing it to make contact with others who feel the same way, and to collaborate with them on practical steps to address the crisis. ‘These difficulties are not going away, so we need to learn how to face them.’

Tips for Coping

  • Be part of a community of like-minded people so you have people to share feelings and thoughts with.
  • Learn to regulate your emotions so you do not get overwhelmed (feeling too much) or shut down (feeling too little).
  • Mindfulness, meditation (and prayer) can be helpful, but so is anything that helps build emotional resilience.
  • Try to ‘re-frame’ eco-anxiety into eco care, eco courage and eco connection. We should not try to get rid of it, we only feel eco anxiety because we care. We should feel proud that we care.

Families Together are offering such a community to local people. They are linked to the Climate Psychology Alliance and are looking to provide help and support to parents, grandparents, and carers who might want to support the children and young people that they know of who are showing real concerns about the future of our world and the impact that climate change is having on their future.
Whilst mobile technology is wonderful it can often bring ‘sad news’ stories at the expense of ‘good news’. I’d like to finish this week’s comment by relating some good news headlines to stories that you can read more about on

The number of Certified B Corporations has doubled in 18 months. There are now 2,000 in the UK. These are companies that prioritise people and the planet alongside profit, measuring and improving their impact on employees, customers, communities, and the environment.

Also the rate of deforestation in Brazil and Columbia has fallen ‘dramatically’. Research by Global Forest Watch shows a 36% decline in Brazil and 49% in Columbia. Both countries have new political leaders and highlights the positive impact of political will on environmental conservation.

Find out more at just

Susan Morgan
Eco Group

Want to know more about the Eco Group?

Wakefield Cathedral’s Eco Group brings together members of the congregation, volunteers and staff to work towards making the cathedral a greener place to work and worship.

The Eco Group achieves its goals through a variety of activities, including partnerships with local community groups.

We invite anyone and everyone to reach out if they are interested in joining the eco group, or simply finding out more about what we do.

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