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Positive treatment for ‘climate anxiety’

PsychWorks Associates discuss the importance of health and social care in focusing on the planet



Gabriel Berry-Khan, director of PsychWorks Associates, discusses why caring for the climate is very much a priority for health and social care, and the sector-leading work he is leading within the organisation


As the integrated psychology and case management service for personal injury clients, PsychWorks Associates is no stranger to the world of care. What the London-and-South-East-based outfit is less well-known for is its interest in caring for the world, in the form of an ambitious focus on the environment. 

“Despite being in health and social care, we don’t believe that promoting wellbeing for human beings and Nature has to be mutually exclusive,” says director of finance, Gabriel Berry-Khan. He goes on to explain why ecological care is one of PsychWorks Associates’ five organisational values (the full list being compassion, respect, equality, acceptance, trust and environment). 

“Both literally and figuratively we rely on the natural environment for oxygen, nourishment and relaxation. Aside from that, many of us actively find positive mental health benefits through our personal relationships with specific landscapes, animals, plants, gardens and so on,” he argues.  

Gabriel cites a range of mainstream therapies known to aid people’s physical and mental rehabilitation through structured engagement with nature, animals or generally the outdoors. 

Gabriel Berry-Khan, director of Psychworks Associates

“In fact PsychWorks Associates’ adopted charity, Mindfood, exists to offer food-growing in natural settings to help people of all backgrounds to overcome feelings of depression, anxiety or stress,” says Gabriel. 

PsychWorks Associates acknowledges a flipside to the human benefits of ‘caring for the world’ and it is about grasping the nettle of climate anxiety. There is a risk of overwhelm from going too deep: feelings of worry can arise from unregulated ‘over-caring’, especially when facing up to the big issues like global heating, pollution or loss of wildlife. 

Their suggestion is to reflect, and try to do something positive about our personal and corporate impacts on the world. Whatever we do, it must be sustainable within all meanings. That may mean starting with small steps, keeping them under constant review in order to maintain progress and gradually identify bigger opportunities.

Gabriel believes that commercial drivers also exist which make business sense out of this approach. Opportunities can range from demonstrating hard financial efficiencies for clients (e.g. where appropriate choosing more local clinicians, zero-emission transport or online meetings, to cut travel costs and emissions), to softer benefits, such as offering the choice of a consciously responsible service to clients who share similar values. 

And for those who may not…? “Well, as long as our core service continues to provide clinical excellence, value for money, and catering for diversity, usually nobody will object that, say, our main offices are supplied by a green energy tariff,” he says.

How businesses large and small go about making eco-positive changes is usually industry-specific. It may also vary with commercial emphases, investment timescales, business locations and client priorities.

Across the board, though, the best results are generally found from applying a common formula: measure your impacts, plan changes, implement them, re-measure/review. Rinse and repeat. 

It’s a formula familiar to Gabriel, who holds an Associate Certificate in Environmental Management and led sustainable procurement and energy projects at senior level in a past career. 

So, where is this green lane taking PsychWorks Associates? “Likely areas of early promise for our own operations are everything around travel, such as length and number of journeys and how they’re undertaken; building in incentives for eco-positive choices for our highly-dispersed staff and associates; working towards accreditation under an Environmental Management System,” explains Gabriel.  

That last piece of jargon refers to an EMS, a formalised organisational version of “measure – plan – do – review”. They supply a structure for assessing, prioritising, implementing and reporting, tied directly into existing business management goals and reporting, and ideally with some degree of external accountability. 

Gabriel adds: “For some it’s all about aiming for the Acorn Scheme (BS 8555), while for others ISO 14001 certification is the ultimate goal. In the short term at PsychWorks Associates we are probably initially looking at a homegrown version, followed by a stepping-stone award such as the Green Dragon Standard.”

PsychWorks Associates is committed to making the environment more of a priority across the personal injury sector and is very proud to be helping lead the way. In 2023, the service will be adopting its provisional sustainability strategy. 

“We’ll update on plans as we go, but we’re incredibly excited about introducing this more into our own service, and taking positive action on something we feel passionately about,” says Gabriel. 

“We hope our actions might also inspire further change across the sector we work in, at a time when it has never been more critical to do so.”

Visit the PsychWorks Associates website www.psychworks.org.uk to learn more about their unique mission, to request information about its services, or to contact Gabriel Berry-Khan about their eco plans.