As an activist, Tsui believes that witnessing environmental degradation first-hand exacerbates her mental health struggles, which she openly says—both in her writing and the activism she began devoting herself to in 2019, which she collaborated with Stella McCartney and co-founded initiatives including Bad Activist Collective and Pass the Mic. “I’ve been diagnosed with everything under the sun, so I’m definitely a madman,” she laughs. Tsui explores this complex topic at its fullest form in the pages of her ambitious new book, It’s Not Just You, to be published this summer. In it, she explains how systemic oppression has given rise to not only the climate crisis but also a mental health crisis that affects not only her generation but those above. that generation. And as the climate crisis worsens—or, in the words of the United Nations Secretary-General at this year’s COP27 conference, as humanity continues “on the path to climate hell with the gas pedal on. ”—no wonder 6 out of 10 young people are either very or extremely worried about it.
Terms like ‘ecological anxiety’ have entered the public consciousness, however, much of the advice is available or pathologically rationalizes the response to live through the mass extinction event or tell people to focus on individual solutions, like more recycling. “My understanding of mental health is that I am completely at the mercy of people who want to label me mentally ill, even though I am reacting to the symptoms of an unhealthy society,” explains Tsui. Tsui’s book supports the idea that climate anxiety exists in a vacuum, seeing it instead as a symptom of something deeper—a frustration and fatigue not solely caused by uncertainty. global equality faced by Tsui’s generation, but also at a more local level, austerity. shameful measures and actions on the climate crisis by Britain’s Conservatives, who have been in power for 12 years and continue. This winter, the cost-of-living crisis has seen thousands die from fuel poverty and malnutrition, but the damage and mistrust caused by the Conservative Party go deeper. “It is easy for us to say that I worry about the environment, but it goes much deeper than that,” says Tsui. “That’s what it means to live in a society that doesn’t prioritize people’s health, treats people like disposables— treats our planet like disposables.”
How does Tsui plan to solve this problem? Adopting climate justice: an approach that treats social justice and environmental activism as one and the same. “There is no quick fix for anything, but we have to start restoring community care and living with less individualism and collectivism,” said Tsui. For her, community is at the core of fighting social disparities and an answer to many of the mental health struggles people face as a result of the climate crisis. “Part of that also acknowledges that there are marginalized communities that have experienced profound, existential crises and that we can learn from them in a way that honors those who came before us and build the resilience they’ve cultivated,” she explains.
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