A psychiatric nurse spoke out at a Bemidji school board meeting last week to bring attention to mental health issues she has seen arise in children who are forced to wear masks.
“[COVID-19] brings just as many psychological consequences” to the human body as it does physical consequences, the nurse said.
She shared that she has been a nurse for over 27 years and has her own private practice as a mental health practitioner. She attended the Bemidji school board meeting last Wednesday to represent the Bemidji Parents Union.
“As we know, children are at an extremely low risk for death, hospitalization, and other adverse events from COVID,” she said. Meanwhile, children are 3-4 times more likely to die from the flu and are 10 times more likely to die from suicide, the nurse disclosed.
She said she has seen intense and significant increases in mental health problems for children related to mask-wearing, including depression, anxiety, hopelessness, helplessness, uncontrollable worry, and feeling overwhelmed.
“Irritability, anger, negative moods, difficulty sleeping, difficulty concentrating, changes of appetite. And I could go on and on,” the nurse said.
She said she has also seen an increase in even more severe and “worrisome” behaviors, like self-injury and suicidal thoughts or intentions.
“I’m talking about children in single digits,” she said.
Substance abuse, even in elementary school, is another behavior she has seen increase over the past year and a half.
“I can see the short-term effects COVID has on children and adolescents. I have no idea what the long-term effects will be, but it is very concerning.”
She also brought to light comments she heard from educators that were “extremely concerning” and “significant red flag[s].” The nurse said she’s heard from several of her adolescent clients who go to school in the district that they were sent to the office for pulling down their masks.
These students have been “asked and/or aggressively reprimanded” about this, she said.
“‘Do you know that you could be responsible for the deaths of other students around you or that you are killing other people around you?’ These are direct quotes coming from professional educators from this school district,” the nurse said.
She also shared a poem written by her client, a young girl. The poem is about the way masks make the girl feel, and it reads in part, “My heart starts to ache. My head starts to spin. My breathing gets faster. I know what will happen if I don’t obey my master.”
Bemidji schools will begin the school year by requiring masks for all students and adults.
Across the state, parents, teachers, and citizens have been voicing their concerns about masking children at school board meetings. Over 15 metro area school districts currently have mask policies in place for the start of the 2021-2022 school year, including a tiered model that has younger kids wearing masks in Anoka-Hennepin, the state’s largest district.
A school nurse in the Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools district recently spoke at her district’s school board meeting to protest mask mandates for children, saying she can no longer work for a school that does not put its students first.
A trauma nurse and father rebuked mask mandates at an Anoka-Hennepin school board meeting, calling masks “unscientific child abuse.”
Minneapolis, St. Paul, Edina, Brooklyn Center, Duluth, and Sartell-St. Stephen are some of those requiring masks, among many others. Most districts are requiring face coverings regardless of vaccination status.