Picture shows a man and child sitting in silhouette watching a winter sunrise over a lake

How do we help young people who feel paralysed with fear about their future?

We have created this page with the links to organisations and resources with the aim to help teachers and parents understand eco-anxiety and help young people cope with the existential threats posed by our modern way of life.

Eco-Anxiety and Young People 

You may have heard the term “Eco-anxiety” used recently, especially in relation to young people worried about the state of the world and worried that their future will be made much worse by climate change and environmental destruction. Listen to the podcasts below and watch the 2018 TED talk (right) from Greta Thunberg about her struggle with mental health and activism against climate change.

Immediate Help

If you are worried about the safety of a child in Devon and want to speak to someone, or if you are a child worried about your own safety, please contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0345 155 1071 or email and give as much information as you can.

If a child is at immediate risk contact the police on 999.

If you are a professional, you should make a MASH contact (previously a MASH enquiry). Please see the guidance on making a MASH contact.

Child laying down and thinking with an up close focused image on her eye.

Humans are pre-programmed to become anxious when they identify a threat. This has helped us for millennia, in producing adrenaline that helps us run fast to escape from dangerous predators like lions and tigers or freezing to hide from danger.

Young people are not immune to anxiety, in fact they may be at higher risk of exposure to threats via social media, which can also magnify their appearance through the echo chamber effect.

Unfortunately, environmental destruction and climate change are not short term problems that can be resolved quickly by running away or hiding. Waiting them out won’t work to resolve our eco-anxiety either – we have to change our own behaviours and influence change within our society to resolve them. We have to find individual ways to cope with these existential threats.

Young people feel more exposed to these issues as they have more of their lives ahead of them than older people. They know their own lives will be impacted by resource issues and climate change. This makes young people massive stakeholders in the future and more vulnerable to eco-anxiety.

Here is a playlist we think you might find useful when talking about eco-anxiety with young people:

The Solutions

The pathway from a stressed and anxious child to a calm and happy one will take time and patience, no matter what has caused the anxiety. But children are resilient creatures, so given the right help and reassurance and provided parents, teachers and other professionals work together then they should be able to navigate their path to recovery. Children may not be able to explain what is making them anxious, or it may be a combination of worries that have triggered anxious behaviour. Below are the stages to help children recover from stress and anxiety.

Young children may not realise that they are feeling anxious or know what is causing it. Look out for the following signs:

  • irritability, being tearful or clingy
  • having problems sleeping
  • waking in the night
  • wetting the bed (especially if they were previously dry)
  • having bad dreams

Older children may show different symptoms:

  • lacking confidence to try new things or seeming unable to face simple, everyday challenges
  • finding it hard to concentrate
  • having problems with sleeping or eating
  • becoming angry for no apparent reason
  • having a lot of negative thoughts, or keep thinking that bad things are going to happen
  • starting to avoid everyday activities, such as seeing friends, going out in public or going to school

There may be a simple explanation for anxiety and it may be easy to resolve the problem, for example worrying about appearing in a school play or worried about changing seat in the classroom. The important thing is to reassure them and explain that you understand.

It may be a good idea to explain what lies behind their body’s response to their worrying about something. There are some lovely videos on Youtube that may help (see our Eco-anxiety playlist on Youtube).

Anxiety about climate change and the plastic pollution problem can feel overwhelming, but there are ways to help alleviate those feelings of helplessness. Many children are turning to activism to help them feel less anxious about the future.

Greta Thunberg is a great example. She was paralysed by Eco-anxiety, but found her voice on the world stage by striking from school every Friday. You don’t have to become an internationally recognised activist to make a difference – see our Local Action pages some ideas of ways to help in your local community.

If the child or teen becomes increasingly unwell due to anxiety then it is time to ask for professional help. The organisations listed on the right hand side of the page here will be able to offer support and guidance. Young people should never feel that they are alone in mental health issues and asking for help is the first step to getting well again.

Further Reading & Resources

Devon County Council Logo

Devon County Council has a dedicated group of people looking after children and families. From social workers to family liaison officers they can help with problems related to many aspects of family life. Access help by talking to someone on the family support helpline: 0345 155 1013

If you are worried about the safety of a child in Devon and want to speak to someone, or if you are a child worried about your own safety, please contact our Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0345 155 1071 or email and give as much information as you can.

If a child is at immediate risk contact the police on 999.

If you are a professional, you should make a MASH contact (previously a MASH enquiry). Please see the guidance on making a MASH contact.

This is the place to gain access for advice and support for children and young adults with mental health issues in the county of Devon. They provide help for children and young people experiencing problems with emotional or psychological wellbeing or mental health.

Young Minds are a charity leading the fight for a future where all young minds are supported and empowered, whatever the challenges. They are trying to make sure young people get the best possible mental health support and have the resilience to overcome life’s difficulties.

We empower young people to turn their eco-anxiety into agency, and work with leaders across business and education to drive intergenerational solutions.

A brilliant website dedicated to Eco-anxiety in young people, with links to news and resources to help cope with the world in light of the climate and biodiversity emergency facing us all.

Open Minds is a Devon based organisation that provides tools for young people and their families to deal with anxiety, anger and enhances positive wellbeing through mindfulness workshops and personalised care.

The Children’s Society is a charity that works with children and young people who feel scared, unloved and unable to cope step by step, for as long as it takes.

We listen. We support. We act.

There are no simple answers so we work with others to tackle complex problems. Only together can we make a difference to the lives of children now and in the future.

Childline is a free, private and confidential service where young people can talk about anything.


Compost Life Cycle

This sheet will help younger children (KS1) understand the Grow-Cook-Eat-Compost cycle. It links to National Curriculum Science in Year 1 & 2: Plants.

There’s also a simple pea and bean recipe below to help enjoy a small crop of peas and beans from a school garden.

Minibeast Colouring Sheet

We have created these sheets for younger children as part of our work around composting and food waste. All these creatures live in compost and help it change from food waste, twigs and leaves into wonderful food for plants.

Compost Curriculum

Compost Curriculum Handbook

It doesn’t matter if you are a complete beginner, or a seasoned rotter; whether you have a ‘state of the art’ composter, or a neglected plastic ‘Dalek’ in the corner of the playground.

This handbook supports teachers to use composting as an inspiring teaching resource throughout the school year. For each month it contains a curriculum-linked KS2 lesson plan and an Eco Team activity, plus a wealth of supporting documents to bring composting to life for adults and pupils.

Recycling at Home

Use our Recycling at Home worksheet to help teach about responsibility for the environment as part of PSHE. With the help of the internet or a council recycling leaflet and student’s creativity they can make their own poster that showing their different waste containers, what goes in them, and when they are collected. Then encourage students to do the recycling at home, find out where the containers are stored and help take the recycling out to the street on the day it is collected.

Don’t forget to send us any pictures of any home challenges you tackle at @RecycleDevon on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

Download 3Rs at Home Worksheet: Recycling at Home

NOTE: This Activity Worksheet was first released as part of our series of 3Rs at Home worksheets created during the first coronavirus lockdown in Spring 2020, but is a stand-alone activity suitable for home schooling or teaching in-school.

Find related videos and links below:

Find out what district you live in

Click here for more information about your local council recycling service

Download Thank You Recycling Poster

Recycling Wordsearch

students talk through a problem in a team

Financial Awareness

Financial knowledge and decision-making skills use concepts from Maths and Computing to understand how to make decisions about what to buy and how to stay within a budget.

We have developed a project based learning activity to help KS3 and 4 students use real-world examples to practice financial decision-making skills. Our activity is based around reusable versus disposable products.

Comparing Reusable and Disposable Products

There are a variety of reusable products available which have disposable options as well. Use this comparison project to develop student’s budgeting and calculation skills. Many adults find this difficult, so they will develop important financial awareness skills with this engaging activity.

Subject: PSHE, Life Skills, Maths

Spotlight on: Comparison of costs of two options over time

Driving Question: How can I compare two similar products?

students talk through a problem in a team


  1. Hold a discussion about money and budgeting. Ask students what they see their parents doing at home. Discuss ways of saving money, like going to different supermarkets for different offers, or comparing options using a price comparison website.
  2. In groups ask students to brainstorm how many reusable products and their disposable options are available. Ask groups to share. Expect items like face masks, nappies, period products (see our pages on Reusable Period Products), handkerchiefs. More unusual ones might be ear protection, paper towels, toilet paper (family cloths are the reusable option!).
  3. Ask the groups to choose one item to compare. Using computers and iPads ask students to start researching the costs of reusable and disposable items. Supermarket websites will have costs for the most easily available options like disposable nappies and period products. Specialist websites will sell reusable options.
  4. Ask groups to compare the costs over a certain time period. This could be for the first 3 years of a child’s life for nappies or the period of time a person menstruates (about 40 years).
  5. Ask students to prepare a presentation to the rest of the class comparing the costs. Students could also prepare a leaflet for the public or their families. They could even ask the school to send information home with families if they wished to.
  6. Make sure students understand that the cost of products often does not represent their environmental cost, i.e. the cost of disposal of the item – e.g. nappies end up in black bin bags, which are burnt for energy in Devon. This is a very expensive process. Reusable products are better for the environment and can help save money too.

Two simple metal dustbins on a patio.

Holiday activity for the summer: What was it like?

What was rubbish collection like in the old days? Start a conversation with an older friend or relative and find out!

An illustration of a chair and a glass bottle, along with the words Guess the Word. The background consists of question marks.

Summer Holiday Activities: Guess the Word

This guess the word game focused on materials will get the whole family involved!

10 magazines opened and placed on top of one another.

Summer holiday activity: Got magazines? Make recycled beads!

Try making these wonderful African style beads from old magazines.