More than masks affecting the mental health of young people: letters

February 16 — To the editor:

At a recent local school board meeting, disturbing statistics about youth mental health were shared. Statistics have indicated an increase in depression, anxiety and suicide rates among young people over the past two years. It is true that children have experienced more depression and anxiety during the pandemic. It is also true that suicide rates and suicidal thoughts increased during this time. These trends have certainly been reflected in my practice of psychology, so I wasn’t shocked to hear the statistics.

I was, however, shocked to hear an attempt to reduce the current state of young people’s mental health to a single cause: mask-wearing. To claim that mask-wearing has caused a drastic increase in anxiety, depression, and suicide is misinformed and misleading at best. At worst, it is deliberately misleading and manipulative. The basics of scientific research tell us that two factors being related does not mean that one causes the other. Countless factors have contributed to young people’s mental health issues since Covid began. Separation from friends and family, coping with illness and loss of loved ones, not being able to visit hospitalized family, and anxiety about getting sick are just a few factors I hear speak in my practice that have had an impact on depression and anxiety rates. I have also heard many children say that wearing a mask has contributed to their difficulties over the past two years. That said, for some children who wanted to feel safer interacting and learning in person with their peers, wearing a mask helped alleviate anxiety and depression. It is clear that the complex experiences our children have endured during the pandemic cannot be reduced to simple causal relationships. They’ve been through a lot, and each child has gone through the past two years in a unique way.

As Covid numbers continue to improve in our area, it looks like mask mandates will soon be lifted. I look forward to a time when our children can interact safely without being masked. We will take a step closer to our pre-pandemic way of life. When that time comes, it will be important to recognize that our children have been through a difficult time in which countless variables have impacted their mental health. Wearing a mask, while certainly a factor, wasn’t the only cause of anything. Viewing mask-wearing as the root cause of their distress is misguided and risks downplaying other factors that have impacted our children over the past two years.

Christopher W. Griffith, Psy.D

Certified psychologist

Resident and relative of Newfields

Get to know the Rye Town and School Candidates February 24

February 15 – To the editor:

February 24 at 7 p.m. the Rye Civic League and the Rye Public Library are once again hosting a Candidates Night for all five races run in 2022. The Library still has a Covid capacity limit, so only Candidates will be in person, everyone else can see the streams of City Hall or the Zoom link (on your Rye Civic News and Rye Civic League website).

Questions should be submitted to the Rye Civic League ([email protected]) by the 24th as they will be printed for city moderator Bob Eaton. Time permitting, additional questions can be submitted via Zoom chat.

The contested races are Joanne Meyer and Karen Oliver for the role of six-year supervisor of the role of the checklist. Victor Azzi and John Hart are competing for the only seat on the library’s board of trustees. Three people, Jennifer Madden, John Mitchell and Sandra Chororos, are competing for the one-year seat on the Zoning Board of Adjustment. For Select Board, Bill Epperson and Cathy Hodson are competing for the three-year post. The school board has two vacant seats and three competing candidates, Katherine Errecart, Danielle Maxwell and Susan Ross.

The Rye Election will be held March 8 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Rye Elementary School.

Steven Borne

Rye

Vote for Epperson, Rye Board of Selectman!

February 12 – To the editor:

I worked on town councils and committees with Bill Epperson for a decade – on the beach committee, long range planning and the planning board. This is only a small part of his commitments to the city. He has also served on the Heritage Committee, the Capital Improvement Plan Committee and is currently Chairman of the Board.

Protecting and maintaining critical water sources, such as aquifers, wetlands and coastlines, is a priority. It creates and supports strict regulations to ensure that these resources will be there not only for our children, but also for our child-children. He focuses on this not for personal gain, but for the betterment of our community.

We reviewed and rewrote many aspects of the city master plan. In doing so, it emphasizes the integration of known facts, science, education, research and experience. It also ensures consistency with the opinions expressed by citizens across the city.

Bill was patient throughout the planning board process. Many applications require months of consideration. Throughout, he remains focused on legal compliance, obligations and fairness. I often find myself looking through the prescriptions, only to have Bill quote the layout of the memory code.

His institutional knowledge of the City is, at present, unmatched. He has lived in Rye for 44 years. Throughout this time, he has been involved, passionate and thoughtful. I often joked with him that his civic responsibilities require more time than a full-time job, it’s a way of life.

Vote for Bill Epperson for Rye Board of Selectman!

Katy Sherman

Rye

Pease cargo facility will negatively impact the lives of Seacoast residents

February 13 — To the editor:

I was impressed with Dr. Clinton Miller’s paper (February 8) on the negative effects of a freight facility at Pease.

It would no doubt be ‘noisy, dirty and negatively affect Portsmouth’s quality of life’.

Please reconsider this project.

Anne Donaldson

Portsmouth

Preferential Choice Voting Would Be Good for New Hampshire

February 13 – To the editor:

The NH House Election Law Committee is considering a bill to introduce Preferential Choice Voting (RCV) to New Hampshire. This is an enabling bill that would allow municipalities to opt in to the use of RCV for their elections and would allow parties to opt in to the use of RCV for primary elections, including the presidential primary.

The objective of the RCV is to elect a candidate who receives more than 50% of the votes. Voters can rank candidates in order of preference. For example, in a race with multiple candidates, you can select your first, second, and third choice, and so on. If a candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, that person wins. However, if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote, the election proceeds to an instant ballot. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If this candidate was your first choice, then your second choice counts. If, again, no candidate wins more than 50%, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and if that was your next choice, then your third choice will count. This continues until one candidate wins over 50% of the vote.

RCV is an improvement over the “first-past-the-post” system we currently use, as it allows voters to vote according to their conscience, rather than voting for the perceived party favorite or the lesser of two evils. It gives voters more choices and more votes. This system is already in use in many countries and in many jurisdictions, US courts have consistently upheld CVR as constitutional. Courts have ruled that RCV gives every voter an equal vote. “Each voter has the same opportunity to rank the candidates when they vote, and in each round, each voter’s vote has the same value.”

The RCV is more representative of the will of the people than our current system. It eliminates voice splitting and the spoiler effect. This discourages negative campaigning and allows the political process to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us. Ultimately, RCV can help heal a divided society. To show your support for RCV, please sign the petition at www.nhrankedchoice.org For great artwork, visit www.fairvote.org

Jeanne Hambet

Portsmouth

State Representative NH Rockingham District 31 (Greenland, Newington, North Hampton, Portsmouth Ward 3)

Collective guilt? No. Collective responsibility? Yes.

February 15 – To the editor:

Germany, on the 50th anniversary of the Holocaust, struggled to come to terms with its violent and racist history with historical exhibitions, theater and art productions, books and talks. The unofficial slogan of the citizens’ groups organizing the educational effort was “Collective guilt? No! Collective responsibility? Yes!”

Today, teaching the subject of the Holocaust is compulsory in German schools. Additionally, almost all students have visited a concentration camp or a Holocaust museum. The effort to learn, take responsibility and move forward continues.

One hundred and fifty years after the Emancipation Proclamation, America continues to whitewash and make excuses for its racist history by limiting discussion of it in our public schools. NH is one of six states that has passed bills limiting how teachers can discuss racist and systemic inequalities, while directing them to promote the story of our exceptional goodness as a nation.

It is not a program that will serve our students well. Wounds from unexamined pasts tend to fester and prevent healing in the present. Although it is not always comfortable, in order to prepare our young people for a better future, we must be honest about our past and continue the tentative steps we take towards justice and reconciliation.

Teachers should be allowed to teach facts, rather than idealized versions of them that only serve the interests of a particular group.

Cynthia Muse

Rye

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