Rev. Janice Hill wasn't planning to go to D.C. last Tuesday, but her daughter's health was so important, she skipped a meeting and got on a bus.

Several hours later, the West Virginia pastor found herself in a meeting with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), where she showed the lawmaker a photo of her daughter Amy, a cancer survivor, and asked her not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

"These are real people. My daughter," the nervous Hill said as the senator listened. "And so I just want you to have that in your brain when you look at this."


The encounter was filmed and posted online:

"The next thing you know, somebody said, 'Girl, it’s gone viral,'" Hill says in an interview.

Hill's conversation with Capito has been watched over 4 million times since it went public on Thursday.

The polite yet dogged exchange struck a chord with Americans who fear that new Senate legislation released last week could endanger their ability to pay for care by doing away with consumer protections implemented by the ACA.

Capito has yet to take a position on the bill, which would make substantial cuts to Medicaid and allow states to enable private plans to waive certain "essential" health benefits. CNN included Capito on a list of 12 Republican senators whose votes remain in play.

Capito's office has not responded to Upworthy's request for a comment.

Amy was diagnosed with neuroendocrine small cell carcinoma, a rare form of endocrine cancer, in July 2013 — an illness she's still fighting to this day.

Hill fears her daughter, who gets coverage through her employer, has already exceeded any prospective lifetime benefits cap, which would end insurance payments over a certain lifetime dollar amount or on specific benefits. The ACA outlawed such caps, but they could be brought back under the new legislation.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell takes questions on the health care legislation. Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty Images.

Within the first seven months of her treatment, Amy had already accumulated more than $1.2 million in costs.

"She is not a drain on this country," Hill says. "She’s been a marathon runner. She doesn’t smoke. Drinks very little. Is in great physical shape. And yet, her world and my world got turned upside down when she got that phone call about this cancer."

Opposition to the legislation emerged swiftly after the text of the bill was made public on June 22.

Illinois residents protest the bill. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

On June 22, over 50 activists with disabilities from ADAPT were arrested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office while protesting the bill's proposed Medicaid cuts.

Meanwhile, thousands have turned to social media to express concern about how the legislation might affect their families who depend on Medicaid, have pre-existing conditions, or have chronic illnesses that are expensive to treat. A Congressional Budget Office report estimates that 22 million fewer Americans will be insured by 2026 if the bill becomes law.

Hill, who has spoken privately with many of her congregants about their health challenges, says the legislation is "the most immoral bill that has come about in a long time."

In addition to her daughter's spiraling costs, she worries the bill would create an untenable situation for the 30% of West Virginians enrolled in Medicaid and the rural hospitals that would be in danger of shutting down if the program is gutted.

On June 26, Hill joined a rally in Charleston to encourage her fellow West Virginians to continue pressuring the state's two senators to reject the bill.

Initially, she planned to use some of her time to praise Capito for listening.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito speaks at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Photo by Jim Watson/Getty Images.

Instead, Hill told attendees at the rally that the tone of the conversation was less important than what the senator plans to do next.

"I very passionately said, 'You know what? She was nice to me, but so what? I don’t care if she’s nice to me,'" Hill explains. "She could have called me every name in the book, she could have spit in my face, and I don’t care. I just want her to vote the correct way.'"

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

If you know how to fix this tape, you grew up in the 1990s.

There are a lot of reasons to feel a twinge of nostalgia for the final days of the 20th century. Rampant inflation, a global pandemic and political unrest have created a sense of uneasiness about the future that has everyone feeling a bit down.

There’s also a feeling that the current state of pop culture is lacking as well. Nobody listens to new music anymore and unless you’re into superheroes, it seems like creativity is seriously missing from the silver screen.

But, you gotta admit, that TV is still pretty damn good.

A lot of folks feel Americans have become a lot harsher to one another due to political divides, which seem to be widening by the day due to the power of the internet and partisan media.

Keep Reading Show less
Connections Academy

Wylee Mitchell is a senior at Nevada Connections Academy who started a t-shirt company to raise awareness for mental health.

True

Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

A recent Twitter thread highlights life after turning 30.

There's something really scary about turning 30. Society places so much emphasis on reaching your fourth decade of life, giving it more importance than it actually needs. At 30, apparently, you're supposed to have figured out all the big things, including your career and your love life. It reminds me of the movie "13 Going on 30" when teenage Jenna is sitting in the closet repeating "30 and flirty and thriving" over to herself as some sort of mantra. I don't know about your experience, but the concept of "30 and flirty and thriving" for me ended up being a total myth. That's what people are trying to tell a Twitter user who needed reassurance that life "gets better" after 30.

Katherine Morgan, known as blktinabelcher on Twitter, is a writer and bookseller who asked a question of the Twitter hive mind to set her mind at ease.

"I’m 28, so I’m almost there, but can people in their 30s and older please (gently) tell me that it’s going to get better and I don’t need to have figured out my entire life in two years?" she wrote. The tweet took off, with more than 100,000 likes and thousands of replies. While everyone phrased their responses differently, the general consensus was you don't have to have anything figured out before you turn 30.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo from Upworthy Library

A proud sloth dad was caught on camera.

Teddy the two-toed sloth has become a proud papa and thanks to a video posted by the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, we all get to witness the adorable reunion with his newborn son.

Mama sloth, aka Grizzly, gave birth to their healthy little one in Feb 2022, which delighted more than 3,000 people on Facebook.



The video, posted to the Florida zoo’s YouTube page, shows Grizzly slowly climbing toward her mate, who is at first blissfully unaware as he continues munching on leaves. Typical dad.

Keep Reading Show less