Student Leaders Hold Press Conference on Impact of Climate-Related Disasters on Youth Mental Health

Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05)led a press conference to raise awareness about youth mental health as climate-related disasters impact our communities. Rep. Thompson was joined by Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Rep. Kathy Castor, Reps. Troy Carter (LA-02) and Mike Levin (CA-49), Madigan Traversi and Giselle Perez from Schools for Climate Action, Moms Clean Air Force, and the Climate Mental Health Network.

Congressman Thompson and Chair Castor introduced House Resolution 975 earlier this year, which was drafted by Traversi and Perez, to address the impact of recurrent climate-related disasters on the mental health of young people.

“I am proud that Chair Castor and I had the opportunity to introduce House Resolution 975 to recognize the impact of climate-related disasters on the mental health of young people,” said Thompson. “This resolution was drafted by high school climate advocates from my district with Schools for Climate Action after devastating wildfires robbed them of their homes and forever changed our community in California. Glad to stand with climate leaders like Reps. Castor, Levin, and Carter and these youth leaders to discuss the impact of climate change on the mental health of young people around the world.”

“Worsening disasters are taking a toll on the mental health of our students and children,” said Rep. Castor. “Climate anxiety is real, and our youth shouldn’t have to constantly worry about climate threats to their future. We must keep working to address climate impacts and build resilience across America, and we must elevate the voices of young Americans, especially those in frontline communities. Together, we can address the stress, the anxiety, and the trauma that climate disasters leave behind – and build clean energy solutions that will save lives.”

“No community is safe from the threat of intensifying natural disasters, and our youngest disaster survivors are suffering both physically and mentally from the trauma of their experiences,” said Congressman Carter. “I’ve seen this firsthand in my home community of Louisiana where families are uprooted, displaced, or lose everything during a hurricane. Being a young person is already challenging, and feelings of climate anxiety or the experience of surviving a natural disaster then adds to an already heavy mental load. As we fight to tackle climate change and transition to a clean energy future, we must also prioritize the wellness and mental health of the next generation.”

“I’m the proud dad of two great young kids, and I constantly think about the world that we are going to leave behind for them and their children,” said Rep. Levin. “I know the future of our planet weighs on many young people like my kids. They’re experiencing record-breaking temperatures, year-round wildfires, longer droughts, and more. As we recognize the toll that takes on their mental health, I am hopeful that Congress’ recent actions to pass the largest climate action in history will give our youth some hope. Finally, we are acting in a way that this crisis demands.”

“Partnering with lawmakers to write and introduce legislation on youth mental health- and the fact that it’s the first time congress has put these ideas together- shows the need to include youth voices in policy-making. It is our future being decided in these halls, so it is imperative youth voices are heard,” says Giselle Perez, a co-author of H.Res.975. “The climate crisis is an intersectional, systemic issue; asking Congress to support mental health for youth after climate-related disasters is just one piece in the systemic shift our country needs to undertake to be resilient while we take on the work of a rapid yet just, transition to a livable future.”

“I, along with thousands of other people, lost the property that I grew up on, all of my belongings, and the haven of nature that my childhood home provided,” said Madigan Traversi.  “Processing a change as massive as that had an extreme amount of mental health ramifications, especially in a community that is reminded of this devastation every year as we experience annual wildfires. All of this is taking place for teens against a backdrop of stalled climate action and a future that will include more extreme climate-related disasters. We all need resources to be mentally resilient as we work to take on the task of climate justice.”

“The climate crisis is a mental health crisis, and youth are among the most vulnerable. This reality is core to House Resolution 975, which represents a truly critical step forward in creating the infrastructure we need to support youth mental health in a changing climate,” said Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst for Moms Clean Air Force and author of “Parenting in a Changing Climate: Tools for Cultivating Resilience, Taking Action, and Practicing Hope in the Face of Climate Change” found here.

“Fundamentally, H.Res.975 is about expanding resiliency efforts for one of the most vulnerable populations – our nation’s youth. This form of sustainable development will directly mitigate the greatest existential threats our world is presently facing- the impact of climate change,” said McKenna Dunbar, Gen Z Advisor to Climate Mental Health Network. “I believe in this resolution because it not only supports climate education and adaptation initiatives alongside addressing the barriers to entry for mental health treatment, this legislation is grounded on equity. H.Res.975 seeks to increase Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for mental health treatment, ensure that community-wide vulnerability assessments are carried out, as well as effectively support vulnerable school districts with funding. The solution to the climate crisis must match the scale of the problem. We do not want to be appeased; we need legislative action.”

This House resolution, written by high school climate advocates and sponsored by two climate leaders in the House of Representatives, raises awareness about the mental health pandemic of youth climate anxiety, the disproportionate impact of climate mental health issues on the youth in black, indigenous, and people of color communities, and calls for funding for resources to support the mental health of young people affected by the climate crisis.

The Inflation Reduction Act, recently signed into law, represents the most significant climate action seen in generations to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gases.  Rep. Thompson, as Chair of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, introduced the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act earlier this Congress to use the tax code to combat the threat of climate change by boldly expanding the use of renewable energy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. President Biden made the GREEN Act the basis of his climate policy which was ultimately included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

The full press conference can be viewed here.

Trudy Wakefield

Trudy and David Wakefield started The Bloom in 2018 to showcase the best parts of Lake County and to provide a local outlet for community events, arts, music, and writing.

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