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How does Climate Change affect Mental Health?

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Accelerator Lab is joining forces with U-Report Barbados to capture youth views on the impacts of climate change on mental health.

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, commemorated annually on October 10th, a new poll is available to U-Reporters on the U-Report Barbados Platform exploring this topic.

Why is this topic important?

It is no secret that environmental challenges drastically influence youth experiences in the Eastern Caribbean. In recent years the region has been particularly affected by destructive storms, flash floods, and periods of drought, which have occasionally resulted in school closures, disruptions to regular life, and breaks in access to essential services.

In addition to these impacts, it is anticipated that climate change also imprints a significant mental and emotional burden on youth. This poll, which spotlights mental health and climate change, is not only a nod to the theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day, which is to make mental health for all a global priority, but aims to put mental health and wellness— in relation to climate change — on the policy agenda.

How will your voice make a difference?

The collaboration between U-Report Barbados and UNDP’s Accelerator Lab reinforces the commitment of both entities to prioritize youth feedback on issues of critical importance.

Last year, U-Report Barbados worked with partners like the Barbados Community College Students’ Guild to gather data on student mental health to improve academic outcomes at the college. Recommendations emerging from the results of this poll were presented to the college’s administration, leading to uptake of student-centered solutions and firm commitments to push a student ‘mental health and wellness’ agenda forward.

Similarly, UNDP’s Accelerator Lab is committed to exploring the ways that climate change is affecting vulnerable populations, ensuring that conversations surrounding issues of mental health are reflective of the realities of young people at a community level.

Nikola Simpson, Explorer, and the Blue Economy specialist at the UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Accelerator Lab, shared “ the climate crisis is no longer something that we only read or hear about, but rather something that now directly impacts our daily lives- as more people, including youth, in the Eastern Caribbean Small Island Developing States (SIDS) experience its’ impacts.  Pertinently, the role of our natural environment has become more evident with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as many people have either turned to, or continue to use nature for exercise, leisure, inspiration, spirituality, or in other ways to improve their mental well-being. As the alarming state of the climate crisis poses serious risks to mental health and well-being, mental health support should be included in countries’ responses to the climate crisis.

How can I take the poll?

U-Report Barbados remains a key player in the region for amplifying youth voices, through its transformative online polling tool that meets U-Reporters where they already are: on social media.

As with all U-Report polls, the Climate Change and Mental Health Poll will be available on Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Twitter Messenger @ureportbarbados and Whatsapp at 832-6775. Simply message the word climatewellbeing to take the poll. You can also use this direct link to take it via WhatsApp: https://wa.link/pfi7mo.

All young people are encouraged to visit one of these platforms, where they can share their thoughts confidentially by following the steps mentioned above.

What will we do with the results?

UNDP intends to share the results of the poll with relevant policymakers and agents of change in order to support the charting of an inclusive path forward, in which youth are better engaged in addressing environmental and climate related issues. All results will also be publicly available via the U-Report Barbados Website, so you can see what your peers are saying!

If you wish to remain looped in on developments related to this poll, and on future collaborations between UNDP’s Accelerator Lab and U-Report Barbados, give us a follow on social media (@ureportbarbados)!

Writer: Hannah Gill

Hannah Gill is the Lead for Reporting and Data Analysis at U-Report Barbados.

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