HEALTHY MIND MATTERS

Gov. Cox, first lady share personal experiences, host summit on childhood mental health 

Dec 15, 2021, 7:08 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2021, 11:40 am

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah’s second annual summit about children’s mental health focused on the need to improve access to programs in the state and also the pandemic’s impact on children.  

“This pandemic has had a negative effect on the emotional wellbeing of both children and caregivers,” Gov. Spencer Cox said at the summit. “And understanding the high cost associated with a failure to address this issue, we really need a clear path forward for our state.”  

Cox and first lady Abby Cox, along with The Children’s Center Utah and the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute hosted the Ready! Resilient! Utah Early Childhood Mental Health Summit on Wednesday.  

The two-hour conference previewed recommendations that are expected to be released publicly next month from the Utah Early Childhood Mental Health Working Group. 

“We’re really excited about these recommendations and are anxious to move forward with all of you,” Gov. Cox said. 

During the summit, the governor and first lady shared personal stories of their struggles with mental health in their early years.  

“I understand very personally the impacts that these issues have on children at a very young age,” Cox said.  

Cox said adverse childhood experiences are not uncommon and spoke of a difficult time during his middle school and high school years.  

“The suicidal thoughts that I had at that time and my struggle to overcome those and the good people in my life that intervened to help me come out of that dark place and understand that the world really was a better place with me in it,” Governor Cox said.  

First lady Abby Cox also shared personal experiences from her childhood.  

“I started having what I now know as situation anxiety when I was 10 years old,” she said. “I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling nor did I have anyone that I felt I could talk to about it.”  

It wasn’t until she was an adult that she learned more.  

“It was after I had had bouts of postpartum anxiety that I started to understand what I had experienced as a child,” First Lady Cox said.               

Speakers at the conference thanked the governor and first lady for their transparency and vulnerability in sharing their experiences.  

The summit’s keynote speaker was Dr. Brenda Jones Harden, the Alison Richman Professor for Children and Families at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She said the optimal time to intervene is early on when a child’s brain responds to environmental experiences.  

“To provide children with the support they need early on as a way to buffer them against these adversities and hopefully get them on a positive developmental path,” Harden said.  

“Addressing the complexities of early childhood mental health needs everybody — policymakers, researchers, childcare providers, community leaders, and mental health professionals — to join forces,” said a prepared statement ahead of the summit from Rebecca Dutson, president and CEO of The Children’s Center Utah. 

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Healthy Mind Matters

...
Tamara Vaifanua

Salt Lake Co. offers workshop for teens struggling with body image

For the first time, Salt Lake County Youth Services is offering a free workshop for teens who struggle with body image issues.
9 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon

KSL+ One man’s heart-shaped mission to prevent suicide

Mental health challenges continue across the state. This week, the story of one man’s mission to prevent suicide with reminders that people matter.
16 days ago
...
Ayanna Likens

You can call or text new mental health resource (988)

The nation’s newest mental health resource isn’t just a phone call service – you can text it, too.
29 days ago
The number for the national suicide prevention hotline, 988....
Ayanna Likens

Utah’s connection to a national 3-digit suicide prevention hotline

It will soon be easier than ever to connect with mental health professionals across the country during a crisis as the three-digit phone number, 988, launches this Saturday.
1 month ago
Posters at the Department of Health and Human Services offers advice on preventing and getting over...
Jed Boal

How community postvention tool kit helps communities after a suicide

How our communities respond after a suicide death matters and that's why the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition created an online tool kit to help.
1 month ago
LGBTQ teens at an Encircle activity....
Ashley Moser, KSL TV

Parents’ support key to mental health among LGBTQ+ youth, experts say

Nearly 20 percent of adults in the U.S. live with a mental health condition. In the LGBTQ+ community, that number is three times higher. Experts say family support is crucial to an adolescents’ mental health.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Gov. Cox, first lady share personal experiences, host summit on childhood mental health