Statement of Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund Co-Founder and CEO Mark Barden
NEWTOWN, Conn. — In his first State of the Union address, President Biden announced a strategy to address the United States’ national mental health crisis, as part of a “unity agenda” consisting of policies historically supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
Addressing the mental health crisis was identified as a top priority for the Biden administration, with a focus on providing support to children and young people, particularly around the mental health impacts of social media. Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund has a long history of championing bipartisan efforts to reduce school and gun violence and self-harm, including its successful campaign to pass the STANDUP Act.
Mark Barden, co-founder, and CEO of the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund and father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, made the following statement in response:
“We commend President Biden’s prioritization of mental health, especially for youth. Efforts to address the mental health crisis and the impacts of social media among our nation’s young people have never been more urgent.
“When Noor Soomro, National Youth Advisory Board member for Sandy Hook Promise and Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE) Promise Clubs, submitted testimony for a congressional hearing, she reminded us that ‘social media takes a mental toll on youth, as it actively promotes the comparison between others, increasing the gap between reality and the idea of reality created by social media.’
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only added to those pressures, exacerbating mental health challenges for young people. Children and teens also will continue to need support as they experience the daily stressors of being exposed to stories about violence, instability, and injustice in the news and online.
“It’s critically important that kids know what to do when they need help or see a friend in crisis. By encouraging more schools to offer mental health intervention and suicide prevention training, we can empower youth and give them the tools to recognize the warning signs, seek help, and know where they can turn to find the resources and support they need.
“Connecting schools, communities, and families with access to services, mental health professionals, and training is absolutely essential to fully supporting the wellness of all students and to preventing students in crisis from potentially harming themselves and others.
“We also need to empower young people to be able to lead programs and initiatives that can help make schools a safe space where everyone can learn and thrive. Through peer-to-peer organizing and education, student-led organizations can empower students to be leaders in making schools more safe and inclusive, and in turn, reduce the epidemics of school violence, bullying, suicide, and self-harm.”
About the Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund:
Sandy Hook Promise Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization committed to protecting all children from gun violence in schools, homes, and communities. The SHP Action Fund champions a holistic policy platform that promotes gun safety, youth mental health, and violence prevention education. The organization works at the state and federal levels to pass nonpartisan legislation through inclusive partnerships, diverse grassroots education, and community mobilization. It is part of Sandy Hook Promise, founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed in the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. Learn more at sandyhookpromise.org.
Aimee Thunberg, Senior Director, Communications, Sandy Hook Promise | [email protected] | 646-761-5579
Loretta Kane | [email protected] | 917-410-7242