Jan 21, 2022 - Health

Calling kids' mental health an "emergency," Goldie Hawn launches online tool for schools

Goldie Hawn. Photo: Paul Morigi/Getty Images

The widespread toll on children's mental health is one of the most potentially harmful impacts the pandemic has had, actress Goldie Hawn told Axios in an interview.

  • "We are dealing with a global epidemic of mental illness," Hawn said.

Driving the news: Nearly 20 years after founding MindUP for Life, an organization that has provided tools to help schools teach millions of kids about brain health, Hawn announced this week the organization expanded onto a digital platform.

  • Called MindUP for Life Digital, Hawn said the pandemic heightened the need for scaling the evidence-based program developed by neuroscientists and mental health practitioners to teach kids how to better cope with difficult emotions.
  • Hawn said she's also been meeting with legislators to put money toward addressing the "public health emergency" of mental health needs in schools.

What she's saying: "It's become right in our face now because of the pandemic. Now we at least get to see it, now we get to talk about it. But is it too late? We need prevention and we needed it before the pandemic," Hawn said. "And this is where we're not doing it. Our classrooms should be filled with how you teach a child to be a human and healthy and happy."

Here are a few excerpts from what else Hawn told Axios this week.

  • On her involvement in addressing kids' mental health: "I don't pretend to know all the answers ... My philosophy is I'm going to put one damn foot in front of the other and I'm going to learn as much as I can to be able to put as many smart people in the seat to be able to change what we're doing for children."
  • On the importance of kids understanding their brains: "I always wanted it to be something with young children to get their brains building appropriately, to get them into an understanding of the brain and how it works, how to calm down, how to self-regulate, how to recognize their emotions and also know the pre-frontal cortex doesn't behave very well when you're upset or angry or uncertain. All the things that happen to children ... the point is, these kids now know all that. And they're seven."
  • On why mental health should be taught in schools: "Our children are going to inherit the world. Why aren't we preparing them to have much more of an ability to see a problem from 100,000 feet up rather than becoming entangled with a problem?"
  • On the bigger picture: "I'm looking at people who are fearful, I'm looking at angry people on the road. I've never seen more speeding and moving around people in anger. I mean, there is so much uncertainty and fear that it's creating polarity, it's creating aggression. And I get it: Everybody's mad. They're shutting things down again. But you know what? We only live once and there is a point where we have to look at this and say 'We're going to get through this together."
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