No, masks don’t cause depression or suicide…damnit

Sigh. I can’t believe I have to write this, but yeah, I do.

Alright, some background. Many schools in the Lehigh Valley – my region – are choosing to act like grown-ups and require that kids go to schools with masks. This is, of course, stirring up passionate feelings in a small but vocal minority of people. They are using a variety of arguments…masking hurts breathing (what?), it’s bad for kids in general (no), or that it causes depression, suicide, and self-harm. Yes, that’s right.

From an Easton Area School Board meeting, where this issue was being discussed:

Of course, this belief is…what’s the word I am looking for…oh, right, it has no bearing in reality.

Let’s review the facts. A September 2020 study found that face masks are effective against contracting COVID-19, and that this directly led to IMPROVED mental health. A variety of theories have been put forward about why face masks can cause depression, but unless I am missing something, no factual evidence has pointed to masks leading to depression.

I don’t want to make it sound like there aren’t potential issues: There are. Masks can cause kids a stress response and make them more afraid of going out. Of course…that may also be attributable to the global, deadly pandemic that has killed millions. Others have also noted that this may hurt a kids’ ability to read faces and social cues. Again, I think that makes sense. Of course, we’re dealing in a world where there are no good decisions, just slightly less bad ones, and a delayed ability to read facial expressions is probably preferable to getting COVID.

Now, you know what can cause mental health harm?

Keeping kids out of school: A slew of studies has made it clear that an overreliance on digital media can damage a kids’ mental health, intellectual ability, and real-life friendships. Of course, digital school is better than none at all, but there is no question about it: Keeping kids in school is the best possible option for their mental health. And on that front, the evidence is clear: Masks in school can slow the spread of COVID and keep kids in school.

Taking a science-based approach to COVID that involves vaccination and universal masking is the best way to keep kids healthy, safe, and in school

I don’t know a single person on earth who is excited about masking. I don’t know anyone who thinks, “YAY I WANNA PUT A CLOTH ON OVER MY FACE.” I certainly don’t. Masks are annoying. But they keep me safe, and they keep others around me safe. I’ll happily slap one over my ugly mug if it means keeping others safe, and I’ll even cover up the beautiful faces of my children if it means keeping others around them healthy.

This is a no-brainer. It’s an easy decision. And anyone who argues otherwise has agendas that are far different than they claim.

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