mayes
Attorney General, Progressive Health Care Professionals Address Teen Mental Health

September 16, 2023

By Corinne Murdock |

Attorney General Kris Mayes tapped the leaders of progressive groups representing psychologists and pediatricians to address social media’s adverse effects on teen mental health.

The Arizona Association of School Psychologists (AASP) represented by its president, Matthew Moix; the Arizona chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) represented by its immediate past president, Jason Vargas; and social media expert Louie Bischoff were featured guests for Mayes’ town hall on Tuesday to discuss the effects of social media on teen mental health. (In her press release, Mayes referred to AASP as the Arizona School Psychologists Association [ASPA]).

The attorney general hosted the town hall meeting at Gateway Community College. During the event, Mayes entertained the potential for bringing legal action against certain social media companies.

“This is an issue that I think more and more parents are grappling with, more and more families are concerned by and are having to deal with, but it’s something I also think is appropriate for [attorney generals] to address from a legal standpoint,” said Mayes.

The AASP is the state affiliate of the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP); both have issued guidance running counter to long-held understandings on mental disorders established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. Mental health care professionals have relied on the DSM since the early 1950s for diagnostic and treatment purposes.

As early as 2016, AASP issued a guideline on “Supporting Transgender and Gender Diverse Students at School.” AASP based their guidance on a joint letter by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Civil Rights Division and the Department of Education (ED) Office for Civil Rights guidance on the civil rights protections of transgender students, issued in the waning months of the Obama administration. 

AASP and NASP declared that “neither having a transgender identity nor being perceived as gender diverse is a disorder.” It further declared that resistance to a child’s gender identity would result in lasting adverse mental health outcomes. 

Following George Floyd’s death and amid the racial riots in 2020, AASP issued guidance on “Social Justice, Prejudice, and Discrimination” encouraging school psychologists to ensure diversity among personnel, incorporate social justice throughout their schools, and overhaul policies that “may passively support” negative outcomes for certain groups of students.

The AASP also has a resource page specifically for social justice matters. 

Similarly, AAP opposes any bans on gender transition procedures for minors, which it referred to as “gender-affirming care.” 

“Any discrimination based on gender identity or expression is damaging to the socioemotional health of children and families as evidenced by increased risk of suicide in this population,” stated the AAP. 

Last month, AAP members voted to make lobbying for federal protections for minors to obtain gender transition procedures as the top priority. Other top priorities included lobbying for state constitutional ballot amendments protecting abortion rights, opposing legislation banning DEI offices and restricting DEI education in state medical schools, and banning youth-oriented gun advertising.

AAP has also supported other controversial health guidance for children. 

AAP long advocated for the continued administration of COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots, despite acknowledging findings of adverse effects from the vaccination. For years, AAP also advocated for the safety and efficacy of masking as necessary for schoolchildren. 

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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