Throughout our recent podcast series, we have identified a multitude of factors related to mental health & suicide risk in youth. Today, Travis welcomes back Dr. Courtney Cinko of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to wrap up the series by looking at how we can proactively encourage our youth to focus on mental health wellness and self-care.

Listen to Episode 18

In this episode, Travis welcomes back Dr. Courtney Cinko of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Travis starts the conversation by asking Dr. Cinko why self-care and mindfulness is so important for youth. Dr. Cinko responds by saying self-care and mindfulness is important for everyone. She goes on to talk about the point that if people can’t take care of themselves, then they can’t give to other people, they can’t be the person they want to be, they can’t excel, and they can’t do the things that make them feel good (2:56).

Dr. Cinko then focuses in on self-care and mindfulness in regard to kids. She discusses how kids have to learn self-care and independence on their own (3:32).

The discussion continues by Travis posing a question regarding the most effective strategies for self-care for the teenagers. Dr. Cinko responds by saying teens should be getting at least 8 hours a day , eat healthy foods at regular intervals, and participate in physical exercise. She goes on to discusses how keeping teens on a schedule is particularly important. Dr. Cinko concludes her response by saying if teens are not on a schedule, their mental health suffers (4:28).

The next question Travis presents entails how parents can create a safe nurturing and supportive environment at home for their teenagers and children. Dr. Cinko responds to this question by saying parents should model behaviors that they want to see in their kids. She goes on to discuss how parents need to check in and talk to their kids (8:29). In addition, Dr. Cinko discusses how it’s one thing to tell your children to do something, it’s another thing to model it, and  it’s a whole other thing to model it and check in frequently to make sure they are doing it (8:40).

The response Travis obtains from Dr. Cinko sparks a new question regarding how parents can support vital coping skills and new behaviors in their children. Dr. Cinko responds by telling parents to talk with child, know their triggers,  and know how they are seeing and interpreting the world. She goes on to discuss how parents should be helping their children think critically through their problems. The more a parent can connect with their kids through all issues and problems the better the kid will be (12:15).

Dr. Cinko goes on to discusses how to connect with children who are quiet. She discusses how with kids who are quiet it is important for parents to offer a space for them. That might start by parents saying I am here for you, I love you, but I want to know about you and your day. Maybe give them a code word or scale. It is important to have quality questions instead of a vast quantity of questions in order to connect with their child (13:58).

The last question Travis asks is regarding parents and their own self-care and mindfulness. Dr. Cinko responds to this by saying parents need to make sure they themselves as a caregiver are being taken care of. In addition, parents should make sure they are eating, exercising, getting enough sleep, and connecting with people who make you feel better. These are all things that will help you and your child be more connected (17:49).


Dr. Courtney Cinko – Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

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