U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has issued an Advisory to highlight the urgent need to address the nation’s youth mental health crisis. Carmel-based nonprofit Ben’s Ranch Foundation operates and supports programs designed to connect teens who have mental health challenges to jobs on farms and in stables and equine therapy facilities to harness the healing power of animals, the outdoors and hard work.
Ben’s Ranch Executive Director Brose McVey responds to the Surgeon General’s Advisory:
“It is critical that leaders throughout our community and nation recognize the severity of this crisis publicly; validate investments and actions to address it; and find creative, effective ways to stop it. We welcome the Surgeon General’s Advisory and statement.
Simply talking about the problem or spending more money on traditional medical care will not suffice. Very fundamental and systematic changes in our approach to raising and educating our children will be required to arrest this epidemic. We encourage public health and government leaders, school officials, teachers, and parents to recognize and utilize the power of nature and the outdoors, physical activity and jobs, and interaction with animals and outdoor classrooms as part of a comprehensive strategy. Our farms, parks, ball fields and backyards are powerful platforms and tools to employ in this important work.
Our schools are ground zero for this crisis and will be a critical front in efforts to end it. We hope that annual mental health screenings at schools and creative new approaches to teaching and learning are carefully considered.
This crisis creates very personal and tragic consequences for young people and their families, but also for our society and economy. Our nation simply cannot realize its full potential if 20 to 25 percent of our future employees, leaders, physicians, farmers and teachers are lost or severely disabled by mental health conditions.”