Values, mental health and climate change

When you write a blog which goes on your webpages, you’re representing yourself and demonstrating your views for anyone to read. It’s difficult because you never know who (if anyone) is reading what you write and who might have something to say about what you write. I always try and be careful because I want to be accurate and helpful and not alienate people. This isn’t something I’ve picked up in some marketing class or other (I’ve never done any of those!) but something which fits with my values. If someone is going to come to our website, looking for support because they’ve got something they are concerned about, I don’t want to put them off from seeking help because I write something that they disagree with. Not that I expect everyone to agree with me, but generally I’ve stuck to writing about Mental Health because that’s what I know and what I feel passionate about, and what I’d happily debate with anyone, should they come to these pages and want to discuss something.

But if we’re talking about values, I believe that more than anything, you need to be true to your values, and for me my values are about caring about and for others. And it’s for this reason that I’m going slightly off topic (although it’s a linked topic as we’ll see further down) and want to talk about climate change. Headspace Guildford is all about the children and Greta Thunberg has been saying, this planet belongs to the young people of the world. Therefore it’s not really off-topic at all but is linked to our core purpose of being here to help and support people who need us.

Silence is not an option because our world is too beautiful and people deserve care & support

As a person as well as because I’m Psychologist, I’m bothered about Climate change. Really bothered. And I truly believe that silence is not an option. Clinical Psychologists are trained to doctoral level, which includes a real focus on interrogating evidence. Looking at the quality of the scientific literature published and considering it carefully. And so, I feel able to say that however you look at it, we need to be really worried about this planet of ours and what we’re doing to it. The evidence base is incontrovertible. (I’m sad that I even feel I need to say that last sentence. In this day and age, as we enter a new decade we should have moved beyond arguing if Climate change is even real and to a place where we can come together to move forward positively.)

What is clear is that we need to be doing more. I say this not to preach, but to make a commitment for myself and to make explicit the link between climate change and the science behind it and our individual and collective well-being. We know the risks of climate change are not just on the planet and on the biodiversity or extreme weather events but on our own physical and mental health. It is predicted that mental health will be poorer and catastrophic events like flooding and fires will result in an increase in post-traumatic stress symptoms as well as mood and anxiety difficulties. Reduced availability of resources and food scarcity will impact on how able we feel to face the new challenges of this new age. And physically we’re facing heart and respiratory problems, increase in parasites and blood borne diseases and more malnutrition. So, to do nothing is not an option. Whatever we do, our aim at Headspace Guildford is to tread lightly on the earth and to continue to be there for people as we all wrestle with this emerging and growing threat in the context of our lives and the lives of those we care about. At Headspace Guildford we already do a lot that helps look after the planet. Things like using cleaning products that are eco-friendly and refilling bottles, not buying new plastic, and reducing our carbon emissions by only heating the office when we are in there and even then, turning the thermostat down. We use energy efficient lightbulbs and have an eco-flush on the toilet. We reuse and recycle whatever we can. But we could do more. We’re also looking into green walls, solar panels and other longer-term projects which will continue to have a positive impact on our carbon footprint. This is a marathon, not a sprint, but just like supporting people with any challenges they are facing, we are in this for the long term and will be humble and learn along the way. If you can think of anything else we should be doing, please do let us know. Together we are stronger but we can all take steps forward in the direction of our values, finding the strength and the motivation to make a change for good in the world (which also helps us to feel more able to manage too link )

Update: This is where we’re up to as an organisation thinking about how we personally tread lightly on the earth. Ideas, comments, critiques most welcome. We have a commitment to doing more.

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