The anxiety that routinely bears down on MacKenzie Harris is rooted in a powerful and increasingly common fear plaguing this generation of young people: climate distress.
“Anxiety for me is when I’m sitting doing my schoolwork and feeling like it is useless because I might not have a future to work towards," says the University of Guelph graduate student who also heads up a group called Climate Justice Guelph.
“Your heart races. Your vision can blur. Your throat gets caught. And you get very flushed and you just can’t focus on what you’re doing because it doesn’t feel productive.”
Anxiety for me is when I’m sitting doing my schoolwork and feeling like it is useless because I might not have a future to work towards.
Climate change-induced angst among youth is helping fuel growing youth mental health instability across North America, according to a cross-border investigation involving more than 70 journalists, academics and students at 10 universities and three media outlets across Canada and the U.S., including Canada’s National Observer, the Toronto Star and NBC News.