'Mishandling of the opportunity to communicate optimism and to be creative in meeting the challenge is causing these aftershocks that have particularly set boys back. Trail Life provides boys with a safe space to build character, develop leadership, and enjoy boyhood in the great outdoors’
As COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift, many parents and teachers are seeing the lasting impact the pandemic has had on America’s youth. A recent report highlighted the drastic rise in emergency room admissions citing “mental health distress” shortly after the pandemic began in 2020. One expert even claimed that the “alarming increase in suicidal ideation, as well as signs of cutting and eating disorders from children and adolescents,” should encourage the country to create “a safe way to reopen schools” to halt this concerning trend.
Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, recently responded to this concerning trend in mental health for youth. As the largest Christ-centered, boy-focused scout-type organization in the country, Trail Life provides boys with a safe space to build character, develop leadership, and enjoy boyhood — all while growing closer to Christ.
Hancock stated, “Although tragic beyond comprehension, it should come as no surprise to us. Depression and drug-related deaths are at an all-time high. Depression now affects nearly 33% of Americans (a 285% increase from 2019) and drug-related deaths increased by 30% over last year. Like canaries in the coal mine that suffer first, men and boys are being hit particularly hard. Men account for 4 out of 5 suicides in America and double the drug-related deaths. The most rapidly growing suicide rate demographic is boys from the ages of 10-14.
“So many leaders missed the opportunity to model courage and resolve to young people in the face of difficulty, choosing to instill fear and panic instead. Surely there is great loss during a global pandemic, but I would argue that mishandling of the opportunity to communicate optimism and to be creative in meeting the challenge is causing these aftershocks that have particularly set boys back. That’s why in Trail Life, we continued to meet in the outdoors in safe and creative ways. We knew the ‘cure’ could be worse than the disease and we made sure boys could continue to find purpose in times of difficulty.”
Hancock continued, “Trail Life USA aims to restore the wonder and winning elements of boyhood so boys can have a sure and secure future. We guide them with vetted male mentors. We ground them in biblical truths. We appreciate their strengths. And we inspire them with outdoor adventure, character, and leadership challenges. This is how we turn back this awful and deadly tide.”