Wisconsin kids, particularly adolescents and teenagers, are in crisis.
The statistics make that point clearly. The stories that add up to those statistics are heartbreaking, and they are everywhere. Ask any parent, educator, coach, or anyone who deals with kids with any regularity and every single one of them is likely to know or know of someone dealing with mental health challenges.
None of the above is controversial, or even up for debate. What is still emerging are theories on why exactly this is happening and what exactly can be done about it. Psychologists, psychiatrists, sociologists are the ones who should provide the answers.
Policy makers will surely have a role to play in figuring out the role of government in delivering on those answers. For starters, even if we currently lack all of the information and prescriptions for a perfect “solve” to this crisis, they should all be moving mountains to dramatically scale up the supply of available mental health support.
Some, like Governor Tony Evers (D), already are. Last year, Evers allocated $5.7 million for a new mental health emergency center in Milwaukee. Recently, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin announced another $2.5 million in federal funding for the facility. This year, Evers earmarking of $50 million in American Rescue Plan funds includes dollars dedicated to mental health services.
That’s great. It’s a start. And a shame that not a single Wisconsin Republican member of Congress supported the American Rescue Plan that made these investments possible.
It’s not enough though. The hard reality is that the crisis facing our kids (and yes, they’re all “our” kids) did not happen overnight, and it will not be solved overnight.
Which is why one of the most important things for elected officials and policy makers to get right in the meantime is the rhetoric they use when it comes to kids. On this measure, Republicans are failing, frequently in shameful ways.
Former President Donald Trump has referred to educational efforts designed to make kids more aware of gender, pronouns and how to respect their peers as “child abuse.” Republicans across the country, and right here in Wisconsin, have promoted attacks on transgender student-athletes, and Florida’s “Don’t say gay” bill is spawning copycat legislation from Republicans across the country.
None of that nonsense does anything to make kids less depressed or anxious. For some kids, it undoubtedly makes the challenges they are facing even more difficult. No one should be ok with that. Not having all the answers as to how to address this crisis does not mean anyone should be making choices to use language and rhetoric that makes it worse.
Right now, Republicans are the only ones making that choice.
If you, or someone you know, is in crisis, there are many resources available, many of which can be found here.
To learn more about the mental health crisis facing American adolescents and teens both The Atlantic and New York Times have recently published relevant, remarkable stories. ‘Plain English,’ a podcast from The Ringer, also devoted an entire episode to this topic recently.
The Biden administration proposed a new rule last week that would require water utilities in Wisconsin and across the country to replace all of...
2024 will be here shortly, leaders of voting rights organizations discuss preparing to vote and the impacts elections have on our democracy. This...
A cancer diagnosis is often a wake-up call. For Allana Randall, it kick-started her career. The 26-year-old was living and teaching in Taiwan when...
Whether you’re looking for the perfect dessert to bring to a holiday party or the perfect cookies to put out for Santa on Christmas Eve, it’s the...