In our county, mask mandates in schools continue to be a hot button issue. There are parents who blame the enforcement of mask rules for deteriorating mental health amongst students. These parents are frustrated and seeing their kids struggling encourages them to want to do something.
“The dehumanization, isolation and fear mongering caused by all these mandates and COVID hysteria is literally killing our children,” Colleen Fleming, a parent, told the school board on Tuesday. “Understand this: Each and every one of you is complicit in the deterioration of our schoolchildren’s mental health and well-being and downfall of their academic success.”
Unfortunately, the parents in this case don't have a lot of evidence to back up their claims of a causation between wearing masks and mental health problems. Anecdotally, they have kids who are having difficulty with wearing masks. That is challenging. However, there are plenty of people who wear masks and don't have mental health issues. It's also important to remember why people are wearing masks. According to this piece, when a state board member questioned the effectiveness of masks, the NC health director, Dr. Betsey Tilson, pointed to 21 studies that show the benefit of wearing masks.
The decline in mental health among children is an all-too-real phenomenon but it started before Covid even hit. Further decline was observed when Covid-19 came into the picture, but the possible causes for this are multi-factorial. When a society is faced with a pandemic, it causes additional stress to individuals (children and adults alike).
It's a lamentable human tendency to find a scapegoat for problems. In this case, it's a shame that those who are truly doing their best to keep our students, teachers and education staff safe are bearing the brunt of the anger for this pandemic.