When she was eleven years old, Goldie Hawn was terrified of the atomic bomb. It was 1956, and she watched a training movie in her fifth grade about the dangers of a Russian nuclear attack, with mothers screaming, blood splattered and cities in ruins. She was shocked.
She told USA TODAY, “I called my mom at work and I was still shivering when I told her, ‘Mom, get home quick! We’re all going to die!” ‘.
After 9/11, fear returned.
“And I felt like our kids were feeling that too,” she said. “And at the time, I don’t know, I tied the American flag. That’s the only thing I can do to find some solace. I tied the flag and cried and thought, ‘The world changes forever.'” “And what can I do?
“And you know my ‘me’ is really small. I didn’t know what I could do, but I made a promise to myself that whatever I did to help, if I helped 10 people, it would be enough. Then at the end of the day, MindUP is what was created.”
MindUp for life is a 15-lesson social and emotional educational program for schools, created by the Goldie Hawn Foundation in partnership with researchers and scientists, that teaches children how their brains work and how to develop optimism and resilience. The program now serves children, parents and teachers in 47 countries.
Hawn was concerned about children’s mental health 20 years ago. The problem has only exploded since then.
This week, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy sounded the alarm in a column for USA TODAY Opinion.
“Since the pandemic began, anxiety, depression, loneliness, and negative emotions and behaviors have increased among young people,” he wrote. “Imagine a high school with 1,000 students. Now imagine about 450 of them saying they are constantly sad or hopeless, 200 of them saying they have seriously considered suicide, and nearly 100 saying they have tried to end their lives within the past year. That is The state of mental health for young adults in America. “
I spoke with Hawn about stress and solutions in Annual Concordia Summit in New York City. Here are some of our talk, edited for length and clarity.
What is happening with the children? Why do we need programs like this?
Children are asked to use their brains. They were never told how to use it. They don’t even know what’s out there. They don’t know how to get into the different things they can basically do in order to actually feel better, or feel resilient and optimistic on some level, or be able to get into an area they know that joy lives inside of them. they have it; They own it. They just have to scan things so they can feel it.
US Surgeon General:The mental health of our children is as important as their grades. Here’s how to prioritize both.
Guys, don’t turn a blind eye. The most important thing for us to do, among some other important things, is to teach children how to listen, how to act, how to feel better, to understand that the brain is flexible and that we have the ability to be and do the things we might want to do, because that’s what We will tell it to our brains.
With all the pressure teachers are under, how do you convince them to add something else to their classroom?
In fact, it does not add anything else. It creates something you do because it is important to your well-being in the classroom. I think these programs help teachers as well. It really helps everyone create more joy in class, more connection. And the research actually showed that the children were better able to work together. If we could create a community of trust, faith, and joy in a classroom, I think they might bring it out. They might learn that this is a way to solve problems, you know, rather than hate, push, ugly, and name-calling.
What about social media and its impact on children?
You give children the understanding that what goes into their minds is already showing up, and that they have to understand how to manage themselves even on the Internet. Now they wouldn’t do it without us. Parent should stand up and say, No, we’re all going to go offline. We’ll go offline on Saturday. We will do it together. There’s new research on that, and it’s this: Our parents still matter. So we cannot give up. On the other hand, there is a way to discuss what’s going on, which means, “I saw this thing on TikTok. What do you think about it?” will not disappear. So if it doesn’t go away, it’s bound to be incubated. It’s kind of like, you know, keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
I remember when Katie (daughter Kate Hudson) was growing up and Madonna was everything. I didn’t say you can’t watch Madonna. She had a wonderful voice. I just wanted you to know that I co-watched Madonna and praised her talent. You know, I wonder a little bit about her costumes (laughs). So we have to (join) with our children so that we can show our opinion. Instead of making judgments, we can be part of a conversation.
You talk about feelings that are contagious, what do you mean by that?
Laughter is contagious. If you hang out with angry people, you will get angry. This is what our brain does. It’s how it works. When you hang out with aggressive people, you will become aggressive. This is all science and research. So you want to be able to get your kids to imitate something that is actually productive. Imitate positivity. Knowing all of these things in terms of how the brain works is why we’re able to create programs to make it stronger, healthier and more resilient.
You can talk about suicidal thoughts and depression. A USA TODAY editor shares tips after her mother died by suicide.
How has mindfulness affected your life?
Well, being mindful has actually helped me a lot when I had anxiety attacks. I wanted to go home to Maryland, you know, marry a Jewish dentist and just have kids and open a dance school. That’s what I wanted. It didn’t happen that way. And I had a strange reaction to him. So I did about eight years of psychology and studied my own mind and behavior and a lot of my history. But I also think that it manifested itself in writing and meditation. And I remember the first time I did it, it was probably the most extraordinary experience where I was breathing and focused. Now we know the research behind meditation. It is so important for your mind, it actually brings more harmony within your body.
I mean, you’ve produced, you’ve acted. I tried to remember the lines. I did the thing you wrote, directed it. I’ve done a lot of things, very stressful. Sometimes I’d just go to act, and then say, look, I just have to stare at the wall. And I will, because I had to put the energy back in me. I mean, life is messy and we have to figure out all the ways we can help each other and help ourselves.
Why don’t you know more about your advocacy of brain science in schools?
I will be honest with you. Goldie Hawn won’t be anyone to listen to about a show. Sorry, but I wasn’t that person, and no one knew me. the correct. So I didn’t involve myself. I wanted to stay in the background. I did some interviews. But proving the hypothesis was really important to me because I wouldn’t go out there with a program that probably didn’t work or had a problem. Now we have the data, now we have all the information. We have all our research now, which is incredible, and we’re still doing the research.
I brought schools, doctors, you name it, to write this syllabus. It took about 17 months to assemble. Now I can’t go further. No text made me interested more than I do now. I look at my career as it is now. We all have phases in our lives, and I wouldn’t be someone who would wait for the phone to ring. I wanted to do something important. This came to me because it is a part of me. I can’t take much of it.
Nicole Carroll is the editor-in-chief of USA TODAY and the chair of Gannett News. The Backstory offers insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you want to have The Backstory in your inbox every week, Register here. Contact Carol at EIC@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter: @nicole_carroll. Thank you for your support of our press. Subscribe here.