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Written by Jesus Palenzuela, ECO President

Hey guys! My name is Jesus, and I am the president of Emory Climate Organization. I wanted to share short blog post about the importance of mental health with the overwhelming presence of climate change over the heads of many young people today.

As COP 26, wraps up I could only feel a sense of withdrawal and indifference as another year goes by leaving everyone with only a husk of hope about what is really going to be done and how bad it will get. Especially with the large presence of youth and indigenous activists, it felt like the chants and cries fell on deaf ears. There was so much on the line this year to have aggressive climate action and feasible change, and it all fell short again as the promises that were made only were through words.

According to a recent poll done by the American Psychiatric Association, over half of adults in the US are considered “anxious” about how climate change affects their mental health and 40% of young adults say that climate change is the largest concern that they have. There is a real fear because we really don’t what will become of our lives and the ones of future generations. We don’t really have a clue as to what will be left. This sense of hopelessness can overwhelm a person. Worrying about our home, I believe is natural and when that home is in danger, it haunts us to the core. I’m from Florida and constantly think about how in a few decades my home could be completely underwater, with millions of people having no-where to go. It feels like its going to be inevitable, and I pray that I am wrong.

Over the course of my college journey so far, and the prevalence of the pandemic, I needed to find some sort of outlet to ease my worries. For me at the very least, being able to go outside and experience nature has been a real comfort as oxymoronic as it sounds. I recently got into wildlife photography, and it has been a great coping mechanism to putting my worries aside for a short while and giving me a calming sense of hope. It has been a long-term and sustainable way of keeping my mind at ease. Now coming back to campus, being surrounded by those who are also highly motivated and relatable has made things easy and motivates me to continue the fight and be as much as activist as I can be. There is so much going on at once, but it’s important to find outlets to relieve stress and anxiety, and find a support system within your social circles.

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