263: Youth Worried About Climate Change

Rachael Banks, Public Health Director for the Oregon Health Authority Division of Public Health, discusses the results of a new study exploring the connections between climate change and youth mental health; Rebecca Fronberg, Program Manager at the...


Rachael Banks, Public Health Director for the Oregon Health Authority Division of Public Health, discusses the results of a new study exploring the connections between climate change and youth mental health; Rebecca Fronberg, Program Manager at the Utah Department of Health and Human Services, talks about how ASTHO has provided $75,000 in grants to help create lactation spaces in 52 businesses around the state; and an ASTHO blog article reminds members that it’s always a good time to work on building relationships with federal elected officials.

Oregon Health Authority Webpage: Climate Change and Youth Mental Health

Utah Department of Health Webpage: Breastfeeding at Work

ASTHO Blog Article: How Health Officials Can Build Relationships with Members of Congress

ASTHO logo

Transcript

ROBERT JOHNSON:

This is Public Health Review Morning Edition for Thursday, September 15th, 2022. I'm Robert Johnson.

Now, today's news from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

 

RACHAEL BANKS:

They feel angry that not enough is being done to protect their future and that adults are shifting the burden of fixing climate change to younger generations.

JOHNSON:

Rachael Banks, director of Oregon's Public Health Division, talking about the results of a new study of young people in the state exploring the connections between climate change and their mental health.

BANKS:

We partnered with the University of Oregon Suicide Prevention Lab to conduct five focus groups with youth across Oregon. We worked to include youth from communities that had been most affected by climate impacts. And the focus group participants included youth from Klamath tribes—which is a tribe here in Oregon—youth from communities in the southern part of Oregon that were devastated by the 2020 wildfires, and we also interviewed experts from the education, mental health, and public health sectors.

JOHNSON:

Oregon worked on the study for about a year and a half, releasing it this summer.

BANKS:

The top findings were that youth in this study reported significant distress about climate change, consistent with what youth across the globe are reporting. They are experiencing feelings of hopelessness, despair, anxiety, and frustration. They also understand climate change is closely linked with systemic racism and oppression, and they feel dismissed and let down by adults and older generations.

JOHNSON:

Banks says the state is taking a serious look at ways to implement the feedback.

BANKS:

I mean, the study definitely has us thinking differently about how we engage with youth and climate and mental health work. So, we're using this to encourage our state and local partners to build stronger relationships with youth so that they feel supported and facing and tackling this urgent public health issue.

JOHNSON:

Banks hopes the report will lead to more discussion and action on behalf of young people and their wellbeing.

BANKS:

I think that we're hoping folks will see this as an asset or a jumping off point, if you will, our starting point to have a conversation about youth mental health and about supporting youth and bringing them into decision making, and also to see the connections with climate impacts and other public health and mental health issues.

JOHNSON:

You can read Oregon's report entitled "Climate Change and Youth Mental Health" using the link in the show notes.

 

Many working mothers in Utah are finally getting a private place where they can express breast milk while at their jobs. ASTHO has provided $75,000 in grants to help create lactation spaces in 52 businesses around the state.

Rebecca Fronberg is a program manager with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.

REBECCA FRONBERG:

There's the federal lactation accommodation law. But there's no teeth to the law, so no one comes around and inspects to make sure that you have compliant work sites. So, it really comes down to the women that are at those work sites having access to the services that they need.

And so, we were so grateful when ASTHO offered this for us. It was an incentive for businesses to be able to become compliant, so it's really nice—a win-win situation.

JOHNSON:

Fronberg says the women and their employers appreciate the state's help.

FRONBERG:

They are so, so grateful. We even received thank you cards in the mail and, you know, just thank you so much for helping us to do this. The women are so appreciative. We actually did QR code that we put in, had them post in the room, and the mothers that were, you know, expressing the milk were able to do a short mother survey. And, you know, we asked them about the accommodations before and after the improvements, or the lack of having one, and what they thought about that. And again, overwhelmingly positive.

JOHNSON:

Utah has a Webpage with more information about breastfeeding at work. There's a link in the show notes.

 

Finally today, because so much public health policy is made in Congress, ASTHO reminds members that it's always a good time to work on building relationships with federal elected. If you're not sure how to engage your members of Congress, there's a new blog article offering 10 tips to get you started. You can read it using the link in the show notes.

 

That'll do it for today's newscast. We're back tomorrow morning with more ASTHO news and information.

I'm Robert Johnson. You're listening to Public Health Review Morning Edition. Have a great day.

Rachael Banks MPA

Director, Oregon Health Authority, Division of Public Health

Rebecca Fronberg

Program Manager, Utah Department of Health and Human Services