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Photo by Karen Keefe

Solastalgia is a recent concept developed to describe environmentally induced distress. Solastalgia is the despair caused by unabated environmental change. People exposed to environmental change experience negative effects that are exacerbated by a sense of powerlessness and lack of control over the change processes. The increase in lived experiences of drought, floods, deforestation and mining cause psychological effects.

The word was coined by philosopher Glenn Albrecht in his 2005 article Solastalgia: a new concept in human health and identity. He describes it as "the homesickness you have when you are still at home" and your home environment is changing in ways you find distressing. In many cases this is in reference to global climate change. Symptoms included feelings of grief, trauma, nostalgia, alienation, depression, anxiety and loss.

I have experienced a strong sense of solastalgia since I was in school and learned about climate change. I also felt distress and depression from an early age about the roadkill that I witnessed in Tasmania, logging and other environmental destruction. I think solastalgia is a common form of distress experienced by everybody who cares about the environment. It is hard to avoid the grief associated with environmental destruction, and everybody I associate with witnesses first hand the unrestricted destruction of the environment caused by industries such as forestry and mining, and strengthened and fostered by state and federal governments.

I have discovered that direct action is good for my mental health. Direct action helps by highlighting the ways we need to prevent environmental damage and climate change. I get a sense of purpose and direction that I do not find in other aspects of my life. It's better than living with my head in the sand!

I also see counsellors, psychologists, my GP and other health professionals regularly to stay on track of my mental and physical health.

Please be kind to yourselves.

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