A Mental Health DayMar 08, 2023 12:09PM ● By Peri Kinder
When I was a kid, I worried about four things: my Halloween candy being stolen by siblings, missing a spelling word on a test, accidentally eating mayonnaise and nuclear war. In that order.
While those four things were the main cause of concern, I also worried about rainy days because stupid boys would throw earthworms down my shirt. I worried about wearing dresses to school because stupid boys would look up my skirt.
I worried about running out of books to read because I couldn’t imagine that apocalyptic scenario. I worried about earthquakes because we were constantly told The Big One would happen when we least suspected.
I guess I worried a lot, but I’m pretty sure our state legislators at the time didn’t give a rat’s behind about my mental health. In fact, children in the 1970s weren’t really considered people until they had a job and started paying taxes.
But now, our illustrious leaders say they are really concerned about the mental health of Utah’s youth, but only in select situations. There is talk to ban social media for kids under 16 because of the harmful impact it has on their mental wellness.
However, representatives don’t seem concerned about the mental health of transgender youth since our state leaders banned gender-affirming care for minors. Even though suicide rates skyrocket for trans youth who often feel stigmatized in society. Even though teens with access to these treatments have demonstrated better mental health.
This is a “problem” our leaders don’t have to “solve” because, hear me out, it isn’t a “problem.”
On a related note, I found it interesting Utah will still permit cisgender female teens to get breast implants. Because Utah.
Do you know what else affects a child’s mental health? The fear they’ll be shot at school. The fear that climate change will eliminate elephants and polar bears. The fear their overworked teachers will quit because public money has been siphoned off to private and home schools.
I won’t clump all our elected officials into this bunch of wackadoodles because there are many people working to help trans youth, create sensible gun laws and reduce the load of our poor public school teachers who get beat up each year during the legislative session.
I vote that each educator be given a 10-day trip to Hawaii, paid for by the record-breaking state liquor sales. Of which they’ve heartily contributed, I’m sure.
Speaking of addressing mental health, Senate Minority Leader Luz Escamilla introduced a bill that would legalize psilocybin in Utah under strict controls. Because this is Utah, this mushroom therapy bill will probably go down in hallucinogenic flames, but hopefully it gets the conversation started.
Another way to help our youth develop better mental health? Stop passing harmful bills. Start passing bills that help our children and grandchildren deal with the everyday pressures of living in this world that feels like it’s gone bananas.
I agree social media causes great harm to our teens through cyberbullying, shaming and creating a comparison mindset. But there are additional issues we could tackle to help our children sleep better at night.
I never had to worry about cyberbullying as a kid, although actual physical bullying was definitely a thing. I worried about being pushed off the monkey bars onto the hard concrete. I worried about kids laughing at my homemade polyester pantsuits.
What I worry about now is how to create an inclusive and safe environment for our youth. I also still worry about accidentally eating mayonnaise, and nuclear war. In that order.