Goldie Hawn Focuses On Role As Mental Health Advocate For Children

By David Konow 02/16/18

Hawn's advocacy turn was inspired by her own experience with depression and anxiety.

Goldie Hawn

Over the last 15 years, Goldie Hawn has shifted her focus from acting to becoming an advocate for children’s mental health and well-being, using her high profile to raise awareness around the world.

As she told CNBC, “We have a serious problem of mental illness today, it’s almost an epidemic—we have to really look at it, and not be afraid to look at it, in order to mitigate some of these problems and create a stronger emotional stability. Yes, there’s going to be mental illness, but not where it is today.”

In 2003, the actress set up The Hawn Foundation, as well as MindUP, a program where kids and pre-teens can learn mindfulness and how to take care of their mental health. Currently MindUP is being taught in 11 countries, with hundreds of schools teaching young people how to manage mental health issues.

“It was a dream to have a foundational program that will help children’s mental stability and resilience basically throughout the world, because we need it,” said Hawn.

The Hollywood veteran was especially concerned about the statistics that suicide is now the second leading cause of death among teens aged 15 to 19. According to the CDC, as of 2015, suicide was the third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 10 to 14.

Hawn also expressed great concern over kids and teens spending too much time on social media, and the effect it can have on their mental well-being.

“Social media has a tremendous amount to do with aspects of our mind,” she says, “and keep in mind that the brain itself does not finish growing until you’re 24 years old. If you have the intention that you want your children to have a healthy mind, and not give them more than they can handle, then you have to be really vigilant on how you allow them to be online, that’s number one.”

This also applies to parents as well: “You have to look at the eyes of your child when they talk to you, they have to have your full attention. You can’t be on your phone all the time, because that’s what they see. It’s about engagement—it’s stealing your intimacy.”

Hawn previously told CBS News that her crusade to help kids with their mental health was personal, because she struggled with depression and anxiety herself when she was just starting to break through as an actress on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.

Helping kids “comes from deep inside of me," she said. "It has nothing to do with what I do, making people laugh or being an actress, but it has a lot to do with who I am, and it matters to me.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.