Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images Goldie Hawn
Goldie Hawn is speaking up for the mental health of children across the nation.
In an op-ed written by Hawn for USA Today, the actress is shedding a light on the effect the COVID-19 pandemic, the very real threat of illness and death, and lockdowns have had on children as well as the rising suicide rates.
"Today, we are in the midst of a national trauma that could very well surpass 9/11 and approach the heightened terror of the Cold War years," Hawn wrote in the piece. "The COVID era has changed our children's lives in far more real, tangible ways – social distancing, school closures, daily mask use.
"Kids are afraid of people, spaces, even the air around them – a level of constant fear not seen in decades. In early 2021, emergency room visits in the United States for suspected suicide attempts were 51 percent higher for adolescent girls and 4 percent higher for adolescent boys, compared with the same time period in early 2019," she continued.
Citing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. surgeon general and the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Oscar winner said all three "agree that the state of our children's mental health is now at the level of a national emergency."
"This tells us that as a nation, we have failed our children," Hawn wrote. "The few federal and state dollars that get directed to youth "mental health" invariably end up being earmarked for addiction and "crisis care," addressing only the most severe disorders. There are modest funds once a kid ends up in a hospital. But what about before?"
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She continued, "We are not properly funding preventive care and early interventions that normalize the mental struggles every individual has at some level. There are everyday tools for mental fitness, just as there are for exercise and healthy eating; we just don't teach them in any systematic way to our nation's children."
Giving a measure of hope, Hawn added, "We will survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but I'm not sure we can survive an entire generation whose collective trauma sends them hobbling into adulthood. We need more research, more preventative care and more early intervention. And there's still time. If we get it right, today's kids could emerge as the strongest generation America has ever produced."
In 2003, Hawn founded the non-profit program MindUp while on a break from acting that lasted 15 years. The organization provides curriculums for kids, parents and schools focusing on the mental health and fitness of children.
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"I had a big hunking dream, I mean, it was crazy," Hawn said in a recent interview with Willie Geist for Sunday Today. "I thought, 'I want to create something that children can access and teachers all over the world [can access] because we need to build a kinder world. A world that has actually greater capacity for critical thinking."
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If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
If you or someone you know needs mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.