Twenty California State University – East Bay public health students, under the leadership of Professor Nidhi Khosla, partnered with SF Bay PSR to complete their capstone project in May, focusing on identifying strategies to advance inter-generational activism on nuclear weapons abolition and our climate emergency.

Working together in 4 groups, the students researched the mental health impacts of climate change and the public health consequences of nuclear weapons. They also conducted an in-depth analysis of SF Bay PSR’s social media communications through the lens of what motivates their peers. Finally, they developed communications strategies for SF Bay PSR to motivate and engage young public health professionals in activism on these issues.

Key take-away findings of their projects included that students are concerned about climate change more than any other issue, and that there was less knowledge of nuclear weapons (although the war in the Ukraine began at this time so the issue had increased visibility and relevance to the students).

In addition, the students noted that virtually all young adults use the internet, with the overwhelming majority using social media, including getting their news from social media networking sites, whereby they opined that SF Bay PSRs’ improved use of social media can help create increased action among young health professionals.

The students also identified misinformation on social media as a threat, such that it can be difficult to distinguish facts from fiction. They recommended educating youth about how to be a cautious consumer of social media, including how to recognize reliable sources. As a trusted source of information and analysis for over 40 years, SF Bay PSRs’ hard-earned credibility is considered a major plus in the “wild west” of the internet.

We have already begun to implement some of the students’ recommendations. Look for more infographics, bright colors and images, videos, polls, and other avenues for two-way communications and engagement. One immediate outcome of their analysis is that our current medical student intern Lilah Blalock is in the process of developing a suite of infographics to support our building electrification project. We will be working to implement other youth-engagement recommendations over the coming year.

Group 1: Climate Impacts on Mental Health

Group 2: The Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health

Group 3: Nuclear Weapons Bring More than Just Death

Group 4: Climate Change, Mental Health