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Perspective

Ecological Grief as a Response to Environmental Change: A Mental Health Risk or Functional Response?

1
Section of Clinical and Biological Psychology, Catholic University Eichstaett-Ingolstadt, 85072 Eichstaett, Germany
2
ARQ National Psychotrauma Centre, 1112 XE Diemen, The Netherlands
3
Department of Humanist Chaplaincy Studies, University of Humanistic Studies, 3512 HD Utrecht, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(2), 734; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020734
Received: 8 December 2020 / Revised: 9 January 2021 / Accepted: 13 January 2021 / Published: 16 January 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Disaster Mental Health Risk Reduction)
The perception of the impact of climate change on the environment is becoming a lived experience for more and more people. Several new terms for climate change-induced distress have been introduced to describe the long-term emotional consequences of anticipated or actual environmental changes, with ecological grief as a prime example. The mourning of the loss of ecosystems, landscapes, species and ways of life is likely to become a more frequent experience around the world. However, there is a lack of conceptual clarity and systematic research efforts with regard to such ecological grief. This perspective article introduces the concept of ecological grief and contextualizes it within the field of bereavement. We provide a case description of a mountaineer in Central Europe dealing with ecological grief. We introduce ways by which ecological grief may pose a mental health risk and/or motivate environmental behavior and delineate aspects by which it can be differentiated from related concepts of solastalgia and eco-anxiety. In conclusion, we offer a systematic agenda for future research that is embedded in the context of disaster mental health and bereavement research. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental change; climate change threats; ecological grief; environmental grief; climate grief; solastalgia; eco-anxiety; mental health; risk factor; adaptation environmental change; climate change threats; ecological grief; environmental grief; climate grief; solastalgia; eco-anxiety; mental health; risk factor; adaptation
MDPI and ACS Style

Comtesse, H.; Ertl, V.; Hengst, S.M.C.; Rosner, R.; Smid, G.E. Ecological Grief as a Response to Environmental Change: A Mental Health Risk or Functional Response? Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 734. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020734

AMA Style

Comtesse H, Ertl V, Hengst SMC, Rosner R, Smid GE. Ecological Grief as a Response to Environmental Change: A Mental Health Risk or Functional Response? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(2):734. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020734

Chicago/Turabian Style

Comtesse, Hannah, Verena Ertl, Sophie M. C. Hengst, Rita Rosner, and Geert E. Smid. 2021. "Ecological Grief as a Response to Environmental Change: A Mental Health Risk or Functional Response?" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 2: 734. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18020734

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