University offers course to help students deal with 'eco-anxiety'

An "eco-anxiety" course is being launched at a university to help ease students' environmental concerns.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) has partnered with the mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind to develop a six-session course for two hours once a week.

"Eco-anxiety" is described as a "direct result of the feelings of grief and distress stemming from the knowledge of climate concerns and its psychological impact" by the university.

"More widespread support for eco-anxiety has been developed in response to local needs in Norfolk, where people are becoming acutely conscious of rising sea levels as local coastal communities experience dramatic coastal erosion," a spokesperson for the university said.

The associate director of student services at UEA, Claire Pratt, added: "We know that eco-anxiety is a massive issue for our students today, and so we wanted to get involved and do something to tackle these feelings."

The course aims to help students "feel better about climate anxiety and provide a supportive atmosphere for discussion and mindfulness", Claire added.

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Azza Dirar, a UEA post-graduate student, who helped coordinate the Mindfulness and Active Hope course, said the focus is not on the overwhelming bleak evidence of climate change and environmental degradation, but rather on how we can act with courage and wisdom during a difficult time.

Building emotional resilience, having an engaged perspective on the crisis and understanding how to be helpful are some of the ways the course will combat people's anxieties.

UEA is set to host its first session on Wednesday 2 November.