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Climate Cafés: A Resource to Help with Climate Distress

  • June 20, 2024
  • Anxiety, Patients and Families, Public awareness

The multiple impacts of climate change are increasingly part of everyday discourse. These impacts weigh on the minds of many, and elicit several emotions, such as distress, worry, anxiety, sadness, and others as described in the Climate Mental Health Network’s Climate Emotions Wheel. In 2023, 64% of adults in the United States reported being worried about climate change, according to the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication’s Climate Opinions Map (Marlon, et al, 2023). Meanwhile, other research suggests that a majority of youth are very or extremely worried about climate change (Hickman, et al 2021). Given that climate change appears to significantly impact the mental health of those growing up and living in a world affected more and more by climate change, having the space to openly express emotions and concerns has become essential for many.

Climate cafés provide a safe and supportive environment in which people can share their concerns, fears, and ideas related to climate change. These cafés have been described by Climate Psychology Alliance as “...simple, hospitable, empathetic space[s]” where individuals can safely express their fears and uncertainties related to climate crisis. Climate cafés first began in 2015 in the United Kingdom, with much inspiration from the concept of Death cafés. They foster a sense of community, enabling participants to collectively brainstorm and plan actions to address environmental challenges. Climate cafés are being held worldwide, spanning numerous countries and cultures.

Climate cafés could be utilized as a resource to address climate distress and other emotions. As noted in the recent publication “Being a Therapist in a Time of Climate Breakdown” (Anderson, et al 2024), climate cafés allow participants to “...explore their challenging feelings of anger, helplessness, sadness, grief and depression, without dissociating, numbing or going into blind panic.” Attending a climate café may be suggested by friends, family, and, potentially, by mental health providers. Although the research on eco-distress and evidenced-based treatment is not comprehensive, mental health professionals “have a responsibility to respond to distress within our shifting circumstances” (Mark and Lewis 2020). Familiarizing themselves with the concept of climate cafes and other group interventions could provide mental health professionals with additional resources to support an increasing number of people experiencing climate-related distress.

How does one join a climate café? Or how might a psychiatric professional refer one to climate cafés? Various climate cafes have popped up around the wide since Climate Café® first established its café in 2015. Some examples include Climate Café® Network Hub, Climate Psychology Alliance,, Carbon Conversations Toronto (CCTO), and more!

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Hope VanBuren, Medical Student, St. George’s University School of Medicine
Azka Iqbal, Medical Student, St. George’s University School of Medicine


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