Letter: Lottery should support mental health first-aid


I grew up in Uinta County School District No. 1, as many of you have. And I vividly remember many things about my time there — some good, some I wish I could forget. Since I’ve grown up and continue to grow, I have experienced a lot of things, both about the world and about myself. One of those things is mental illness. 

Whether you believe it even exists, let alone is a real problem many people, young and old, struggle with, I’m afraid it is an objective reality. I’ve seen and talked to many therapists and counselors in my time on this earth, and one thing rings true that I’ve learned from all of them is that trauma is one of the biggest catalysts for mental illness.

Lord knows I and many others have experienced trauma at some point in our lives. On Aug. 15, my mother attempted to take her own life. There is a silver lining there because she did not succeed but not from lack of trying. It was very sad and it was very scary. However, she survived, only to suffer a heart attack on Oct. 9, and open-heart surgery on Oct. 23.

I’m happy to report that she is alive and recovering quite well! While these experiences were not pleasant ones, traumatic even, both for my mother and those of us who care about her, these experiences taught me something. They taught me the hard life lesson that life is not fair, and life is not easy. And no amount of power, social status, friends or money will make it that way.

I believe there is a way to curb the problems in our state and even our country regarding suicide and mass shootings. And that is to teach the youth about mental health first-aid, a class I know is being taught at our state hospital, and many employees there have called into question why it isn’t being taught in schools. All I want to do is propose that it should be.

And I know what you might be thinking, “But those things cost money!” I think I have an idea as to exactly where that money is. Allow me to enlighten you.

The state of Wyoming started selling lottery tickets in August of 2014. I know this because I am a cashier who sells them. And the store that I happen to work in sells an average of $1,000 every day in lottery tickets and roughly $10,000 every single week. The business makes just 6 percent commission off of those sales.

Those in charge at the Wyoming lottery tell us that the rest of that money is being used “for the schools.” And as someone who helps earn this state that money, for minimum wage, I want a say in what is done with it and where it goes. If it saves just one young life out of 100 million, it will not have been for nothing. 

Ashlee Mills



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