In the headlines: Eco-distress, and the addictions crisis

The College was in the headlines again this week with stories about our new eco-distress patient resource and concerns about addictions services being highlighted in the national media.


Global warming, events like floods, fires or drought and harm to animals as a result of habitat destruction are affecting the mental health of younger generations, who now face even more uncertainty about their future because of the pandemic.

The wide range of emotions and thoughts young people may experience when they hear bad news about our planet and the environment is called eco distress.

To address this growing issue, the College has produced its first ever online resources to help children and young people with eco-distress and to help parents as well.

To promote these resources, the RCPsych’s media team successfully used data from our members survey to highlight the extent of the problem.

Our survey found that over half (57%) of child and adolescent psychiatrists surveyed in England are seeing children and young people distressed about the climate crisis and the state of the environment.

This statistic formed the main news 'hook' for our story, which was covered by The Guardian, who interviewed Dr Bernadka Dubicka, Chair of the Child and Adolescent Faculty, and Rhiannon, aged 19, who has lived experience of eco-distress, as well as inews and other outlets.

Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Dubicka said: "We don’t want to pathologise a normal response.

“But eco-anxiety can develop into something unhealthy. If a child already has mental health issues, this may compound some of those worries and anxieties. If a parent sees changes in a child, for example, more withdrawn, not sleeping or eating, it is important they seek help."

Alongside the resources, the College's digital team has also produced a podcast on eco-distress, featuring Dr Catriona Mellor and two young people in conversation, discussing their own perspectives on the impact of the climate crisis on mental health and wellbeing.

The addictions crisis

The College’s media team successfully placed a comment article in The Telegraph from RCPsych President Dr Adrian James, in which he wrote about the "huge misconception that to be alcohol dependent you must be supping cheap cider on the streets" and explained how "there’s always been a body of other, more hidden problem drinkers".

Explaining the policy changes the College wants to see, Dr James wrote: "Dame Carol Black’s report is a rare opportunity to overhaul addiction services. It must commit to properly funding services by reversing the cuts and investing £374million into adult services over the coming years.

“This will ensure services can meet existing demand as well as supporting functional drinkers and the new patients Covid-19 will undoubtably bring. It’s also the chance to fix the broken commissioning model and to bring the clinical part of treatment back to the NHS."

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