Climate Well-being Workshop Series in Memramcook-Tantramar Region

During 2019-2020 EOS Eco-Energy was awarded funding from the Sackville Hospital Foundation to offer a series of workshops on managing climate change stress and eco-anxiety which aimed to help in the prevention of more serious and costly mental health interventions.

The need for such workshops came about because EOS realized that climate change issues can be mentally taxing, but that we also can’t give up hope, tune out or burn out. People in the community are worried about the dykes, floods, storms, power outages, and some experience stress related to repair costs, burnout, what to tell their children, home value, displacement, and more.

The goals of the project were to:

  1. Increase the mental resiliency of the Tantramar community (adults and youth) related to climate change;
  2. Provide coping tools and strategies related to climate change and mental health in order to reduce stress and anxiety and prevent larger interventions;
  3. Provide a safe and supportive space for those suffering the mental impacts of climate change alone (ie. reduce feelings of isolation); and
  4. Provide opportunity for community members to connect and help each other work toward community- based climate action(s).


In addition, the project addressed the following Tantramar Area Community Needs Assessment priority areas:

  • A decrease in mental resiliency and coping skills in children and youth in the Community.
  • The need for support staff in the community to help coordinate and implement prevention/health promotion type programming, particularly in outer rural communities

Understanding and Assessing Impacts

This project forms part of a host of work by EOS Eco-Energy to address climate change impacts on environmental and human wellbeing. The project was designed to address the mental health and wellbeing of residents who have expressed experiencing various types of stress and anxiety related to climate change and extreme weather events.

Downtown Sackville and much of the larger Tantramar Region have been historically affected by over-land freshwater flooding. Flood mapping recently released by the Government of New Brunswick expects flooding to become more frequent and more severe towards the end of the century.

The Town of Sackville in 2016 released a Corporate Climate Change Adaptation Plan to better understand how climate change was projected to affect their community. The plan presents an adaptation vision for the Town of Sackville, and details climate change impacts affecting the municipality including changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise, intensifying storms and storm surges, and rising temperatures. A series of flood scenarios are also included. The plan summarizes previous public engagement sessions, including risk and vulnerability assessments.

Building on the Sackville risk and vulnerability assessments and to better understand how climate change was affecting the mental health of residents, EOS launched a pilot study in winter of 2019. The pilot consisted of a literature review of resources on climate-related anxiety and stress, a public survey to assess how community members were experiencing climate change, and a host of workshops for youth and adults to increase climate knowledge, promote resilience, and support well-being.

Due to the success of the pilot program, EOS organized another 7 community workshops to address climate change and wellbeing in the community.

Identifying Actions

The results of the pilot project were used to identify actions to better adapt to climate stress and anxiety. Key messages from the literature review include:

  • Climate change is impacting human health both physically and mentally.
  • The severity of climate change stress can depend on age, background, coping capacity, social support networks, socio-economic status, and susceptibility to anxiety in general, and pre-existing health issues
  • A host of coping strategies exist address climate anxiety

An anonymous survey, promoted through Sackville area social media pages and flyers, was issued online with 36 questions focused on: demographics, gauging participant understanding of climate change, understanding the scale of participant’s anxieties, identifying specific emotions evoked by thoughts of climate change, and understanding participant’s opinion on individual and community response to climate change. The surveys found that local people are feeling stress, anxiety, fear, anger, fatigue, isolated, grief, guilt, helplessness, despair, sadness, etc.

The pilot workshops centred around ways in which residents can better understand how climate change is going to affect their community, what to do during climate emergencies, and education on adaptation and resilience strategies that can be implemented on a local scale.

Due to the success of the pilot project, and the expressed interest for more programming related to mental health and climate change, EOS and the Sackville Hospital Foundation partnered to offer a host of workshops specifically dedicated to reducing and managing climate stress.


EOS participated in a number of local community events, including Tantramar Climate Change Week to communicate climate change issues, engage the larger community, and to promote the events and workshops EOS was hosting.

EOS partnered with local community organizations to host and facilitate workshops to educate residents on the effects of climate change, highlight opportunities to engage with adaptation strategies, address coping mechanisms to reduce stress and anxiety, and provide space and support for community members experiencing the mental impacts of climate change.

These workshops were facilitated by mental health therapists with IRIS Community Counselling who specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. Several of these sessions were designed directly for youth, while the rest were open to the public, each with a special theme such as teaching and working with kids, working or volunteering in the environmental field, parenting through climate change, and indigenous teachings.

All workshops were free to attend and EOS offered transportation assistance, refreshments and free childcare at the workshops to help decrease barriers. Workshops took place at a variety of locations in the Sackville region.

Outcomes and Monitoring Progress

The project saw 106 attendees over 7 workshops, and received extremely positive feedback through evaluations.

Workshop participants learned how to cope with climate stress and how to focus on self-care strategies. They learned cognitive behavioural strategies as well as how the brain functions on stress, how to harness stress for proactive, positive impacts and participants also connect with others with similar feelings, concerns, and experiences. People felt less isolated, more supported and now have the tools to be mentally resilient as we continue to deal with more and more climate change impacts. Some participants felt a renewed sense of hope and all felt the ability to take positive actions toward their own mental health, self-care, and environmental action. The sessions helped provide preventative strategies and advice before mental health concerns get out of hand and require larger and more costly interventions including medications.

At the adult workshops, participants were invited to complete an event evaluation form. In addition to asking if they learned something new, how likely they were to engage in the topic area after attending the workshop, and what they planned to do with the information learned, they were also asked if they felt more or less at ease about climate change as a result of participating in the workshop.

Next Steps

Throughout the workshop series, EOS learned that while climate stress is a serious concern affecting a growing number of people around the globe, it also brings people together, and great things can come out of climate stress when people learn coping strategies to manage it and turn their stress into action to better our communities. The evaluations received by EOS were all extremely positive and highlight the need for such workshop to continue in the future.


Link to Full Case Study

Additional Resources

Further understand how climate information can be applied in decision-making by exploring the Health Module on