Review: The impact of climate change awareness on children's mental well-being and negative emotions – a scoping review
Child and Adolescent Mental Health
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Background: Climate change is a threat to children’s physical health, but there are also implications for mental well-being. Additionally, children may experience negative emotional responses stemming from an overarching awareness of the imminent threats to the planet due to climate change. Method: Using a scoping review, we examined the impact of climate change awareness on children’s mental well-being and negative emotions. Our aim was to identify and describe the existing literature and highlight priorities for future research. Three specific objectives guided the review: (1) to identify and provide an overview of research regarding the impact of climate change awareness on children’s mental well-being and negative emotions; (2) to summarize and clarify the terminology related to climate change awareness and children’s mental well-being and negative emotions; and (3) to make recommendations for areas of future research. Results: Thirty-three articles were included in a narrative synthesis. Many articles were reviews or editorials/commentaries. Of the empirical research, most were from Europe, North America, and Australia. The articles emphasized a large range of negative emotions that children felt about climate change, with anxiety and worry being the most researched and discussed. Conclusions: The research on the impact of awareness of climate change on children’s mental well-being and negative emotions is in its early phases. Efforts are needed to advance conceptual clarity and operationalize concepts. Additionally, there is a need for research into the impact of climate change awareness on children’s mental well-being and negative emotions among a greater diversity of people and places. Existing studies provide an encouraging basis from which to develop future research.