An Open Letter to Mental Health Care Professionals, Workers and Organizations
As an advocate for your clients and our profession please take this opportunity to exercise your influence and add your voice to the chorus calling for sanity and action to recognize climate change as the most important mental health issue we have ever faced. Please become a signatory to this open letter as one aspect of your empowerment through action.
The attached letter represents an effort by the Therapist’s Council for Environmental and Economic Consciousness to bring the psychological effects of climate change and converging issues into focus in our profession.
Sign on to this petition letter as an indication of your support for what is arguably the biggest issue of our time and, indeed, the history of humankind.
When you sign, please use your credential initials and/or title (e.g. LMHC, LCSW, M.D., PysD, PhD, Intern, Director, Case Manager, S.A. Specialist, etc.). Comments to decision makers are welcome.
We will circulate the letter to various professional organizations, publications, governmental departments, politicians, mental health and social service agencies, social networks as appropriate. Please forward this petition on to colleagues, networks, etc.
For the full annoted version of the letter visit our facebook page: Therapists' Council for Environmental and Economic Consciousness.
To contact us with comment or question or get assistance in forming your own local therapist’s circle at TherapistsCouncil@gmail.com. We will not give, sell or offer your email address to anyone.
In gratitude for this opportunity to act on behalf of Community Earth, we are
Therapist's Council for Environmental and Economic Consciousness
Sign the Petiton. Include credentials! Thanks
- President, American Counseling Association - ACA (2013-2014)
Cirecie A. West-Olatunji
- President-Elect, ACA (2013-2014)
Robert L. Smith
- Past-President, ACA (2013-2014)
Bradley T. Erford
- ACA Executive Director
- Director, Division of Extramural Activities, NIMH, NIH
Jane A. Steinberg, Ph.D.
- Director, National Institute of Mental Health
Dr Thomas Insel
An Open Letter to Mental Health Care Professionals, Workers and Organizations:
WE the undersigned observe and assert:
As Mental Health Care Professionals we are compelled and ethically bound by the serious nature of the continuing and increasing psychological impact on those we serve to acknowledge the science-based reality of the human tragedy wrought by the converging crises of global climate change, resource depletion, economic contraction and environmental destruction. In the words of Joanna Macy , a “Great Turning” toward a sustainable society is upon us; a Great Turning calling us to reflect deeply on world changes and make purposeful, meaningful responses.
WE recognize that the effects of climate change are massive in scope and are already occurring, as most recently evidenced by events such as superstorm Sandy or the record high temperatures in Australia. Widespread and increased occurrences of droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricane activity and severity, rapidly melting ice caps, rising sea levels, rising global temperatures are well documented and self evident. Additionally,
WE align with the vast majority of climate science and economic evidence which confirm and predict continued and increasing global impacts affecting even larger numbers of people, as well as, our valued creature co-occupants of the planet.
WE assert that the severe consequences inherent in these convergent crises are putting all of us at risk: exposing us to physical danger and increasing psychological distress. Many of us have suffered or know of people who have suffered negative psychological impact either from direct effects - such as grief from death of loved ones, displacement from destroyed homes and workplaces after catastrophic weather, fires, economic disruption, etc. - or indirect stressors such as joblessness, disruptions in utilities or supply lines, food insecurity, increased prices for food and commodities, Nature loss and the like. Further,
WE recognize that these impacts cause a significant increase in baseline stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms and consequent maladaptive behaviors such as homicide, suicide, substance abuse, domestic violence, crimes of property, to name some.
OUR stance to this “Great Turning” is one of being gravely concerned, yet facing the threat squarely. We find ways to express our feelings as these conditions affect us and pursue other self-care practices. We seek inner direction, as well as consultation with community; reflecting, then responding individually and collectively in meaningful ways which exert our influence on this critical situation.
WE recognize our ability as healers: giving compassionate care for that which is dying out and facilitating ease of transition for that which is being birthed. In this shift we are assisting people in breaking through denial, mourning their losses and transforming to fit the new story of their lives.
OUR perspective not only addresses the problems we face, but also acknowledges these great challenges as opportunities. We expect the everlasting power of the resilient human spirit to collectively birth new and creative solutions to stop further decline in conditions.
We accept change as natural and see ourselves as akin and a part of ever-changing Nature. Sharing this deeply gratifying vision of humans being but one inseparable part of the living earth, we optimistically promote and foresee preparing our towns, cities, states and nations for the ever evolving future. We accept our duty to catalyze this change in worldview first and foremost through our active modeling of these changes.
AS Mental Health Care professionals: psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, counselors, social workers, private practitioners, agency staff and administrators, front line staff, interns and students:
WE hereby call for –
1) OUR respective professional mental health care associations and organizations to join with other professional health , science and worker organizations in publicly acknowledging, as current and monumental global climate change and the related psychological impact of the converging crises on the people we serve.
2) The formation of small, local circles of therapists and other professionals with the expressed intent of providing support, information exchange, and developing healthy, adaptive strategies to address the psychological impacts of the converging crises on themselves and clients.8
3) An immediate convening of a National Congress for Psychological Preparation including regional representatives of all professional mental health care associations and organizations and other informed members of our professions to open dialogue on the design, plan and implementation of professional responses to this unfolding, great challenge.
4) Advocacy for increased funding and reimbursement of direct psychological services to all populations.
5) Designation within our professional associations of eco-psychology and deep ecology as interdisciplinary areas of concern, study and promotion.
6) Education and Training for mental health care professionals and frontline staff: to/for:
a) To Increase knowledge of likely scenarios; thereby acquiring skills and exploring strategies to assist communities, families and individuals to adopt empowering perspectives, attitudes and actions to mitigate psychological effects of climate change.
b) To Understand, via scientific research, our continually evolving vital and integral connections between the health of the living earth and that of the human body/mind.
c) To Include in clinical evaluations and psychosocial assessments and treatment plans, the effects and consequences of the converging crises as potential precipitating factors.
d) For Critical incident and trauma interventions with disaster survivors, First Responders and other affected individuals.
e) For Treatment Interventions for those affected by the chronic stress caused by more gradual effects of climate and economic and demographic changes (e.g. rising sea levels or droughts cause gradual loss of viable occupations from fishing and farming, lack of fertile land, or solid land mass; unavailability of affordable housing, rising medical costs and shrinking services for the elderly, etc., creating climatic and economic refugees).
WE, as Mental Health Care Professionals, by affixing our signatures to this letter, affirm our full-hearted commitment to compassionately and with joy, facilitate healthy, optimal adaptations to the circumstances which we and those whom we serve face, as one means of asserting our influence at this critical time in history.
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