In recent decades, multiple studies have documented the impact of environmental exposures on the overall well-being of communities and individuals.
As environmentalists and climate researchers warn us about the adverse effects of climate change, mental health professionals around the globe are calling on national and international institutes to pay attention to the correlation between climate change and mental well-being. Furthermore, the COVID-19 crisis has added a more urgent need for various stakeholders to identify and implement all-around mental health solutions that take into consideration environmental factors.
While it is quite known that climate change-induced natural disasters have harmful effects on the general health and mental health of communities and individuals, eco-anxiety has become a real cause of concern for mental health service providers worldwide. It is also important to note that certain communities, that rely on nature for their sustenance, are more adversely affected by climate change than others.
Even though mental health professionals are now realising the importance of nature-based therapies for long-term mental health solutions, there is a long way to go.
We have curated a list of books that touch upon the intersection of mental health and the environment.
1. A Guide to Eco-Anxiety: How to Protect the Planet and Your Mental Health by Anouchka Grose
About the book: The book explores the health impact of experiencing eco-anxiety, grief, trauma, and signposts recommended treatments and therapies. It also tackles practical issues such as: why it’s important to reduce plastic waste; parenting and the choice to have a family; which is more effective to bring your carbon footprint down, go vegan or fly less?
2. By the Sea: The therapeutic benefits of being in, on and by the water by Dr. Deborah Cracknell.
About the book: In this stunning book, intuition and instinct meet modern science as the therapeutic benefits of being in, on or by the sea are explained and explored, and how, if we look after the oceans they will, in turn, look after us.
3. Generation Dread: Finding Purpose in an Age of Climate Crisis by Britt Wray
About the book: Through the book, Britt Wray seamlessly merges scientific knowledge with emotional insight to show how these intense feelings are a healthy response to the troubled state of the world. The first crucial step toward becoming an engaged steward of the planet is connecting with our climate emotions, seeing them as a sign of humanity, and learning how to live with them.
4. Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need The Wild by Lucy Jones
About the book: Urgent and uplifting, Losing Eden is a rallying cry for a wilder way of life – for finding asylum in the soil and joy in the trees – which might just help us to save the living planet, as well as ourselves.
5. The Heartbeat of Trees: Embracing Our Ancient Bond with Forests and Nature by Peter Wohlleben
About the book: This book marks a powerful return to the forest, where trees have heartbeats and roots are like brains that extend underground, where the colour green calms us and the forest sharpens our senses. Renowned forester Peter Wohlleben draws on new scientific discoveries to show how humans are deeply connected to the natural world.
6. The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak
About the book: Author Elif Shafak brings us a rich, magical tale of belonging and identity, love and trauma, memory and amnesia, human-induced destruction of nature, and, finally, renewal.
7. The Overstory by Richard Powers
About the book: From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours—vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us.
8. The Wild Remedy: How Nature Mends Us – A Diary by Emma Mitchell
About the book: In Emma’s hand-illustrated diary, she takes us with her as she follows the local paths and trails, sharing her nature finds over the course of a year. Reflecting on how these encounters impact her mood, Emma’s candid account of her own struggles is a powerful testament to how reconnecting with nature can be as medicinal as any talking therapy or pharmaceutical.
9. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Time by Katherine May
About the book: A moving personal narrative shot through with lessons from literature, mythology, and the natural world, May’s story offers instruction on the transformative power of rest and retreat. Illumination emerges from many sources: solstice celebrations and dormice hibernation, C.S. Lewis and Sylvia Plath, swimming in icy waters and sailing arctic seas.
10. Upstream: Selected Essays by Mary Oliver
About the book: Upstream follows Oliver as she contemplates the pleasure of artistic labor, her boundless curiosity for the flora and fauna that surround her, and the responsibility she has inherited from Shelley, Wordsworth, Emerson, Poe, and Frost, the great thinkers and writers of the past, to live thoughtfully, intelligently, and to observe with passion.