In the latest edition of the Grant Us Hope Podcast, Dr. Lynne Merk of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center joins host Travis Nipper to chat about the impacts and resolutions of current events and excessive media exposure. Dr. Merk outlines the data behind positive and negative effects of access to media and current event especially in light of the current pandemic. She discuses COVID’s effect on schooling and students in the form of stress anxiety, and depression in teens as well as the potential long term impacts. All along, Dr. Merk shares practical tips to keep your youth safe, healthy, and strong. 

Listen to Episode 15

Travis begins by introducing Dr. Lynne Merk of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.  Dr. Merk is a clinical psychologist who is an out-patient mental health provider for individual and family therapy sessions. She has been practicing with Cincinnati Children’s for 18 years and specializes in anxiety disorders, OCD, ADHD, and behavior management. In addition, Dr. Merk is a clinical supervisor for a group of mental health providers who work in the local pediatricians offices. (2:05)

She then dives into discussing  how there is a significant impact on youth regarding current events and certain types of media exposure. (3:01) Dr. Merk discusses that the concern for youth and their exposure to media is that they hear things in the media, and they misinterpret what it means, they don’t know what it means, or the media tends to hype things up “presenting the worst of the worst”.  (3:20)

Dr. Merk then discusses the positives to media exposure for youth. One positive is  the fact that there are many different ways for teens to get information. The key to that is knowing which resources to go to that are accurate and will provide the best information. Furthermore, media is good to use in moderation. (4:10)

In addition, there has been a significant change in the way mental health is discussed in society. There is starting to be a shift in the way  youth discuss mental health issues. The youth are more open about their own mental health issues and are not as judgmental than individuals from different generations. Moreover, different generations have different ideas about what mental health entails, and currently there is a greater awareness around mental health. (6:05)

Dr. Merk goes on to discuss how some families are more aware and more open to understanding mental health as a true concern for themselves and their child.  Furthermore, many  people don’t understand mental health and why individuals need mental health resources. That is why it is important for parents to be educated about mental illness. Mental health is still hard for some parents to understand because mental illnesses cannot be physically seen or measured by chemicals in the brain. (9:20)

Part of the stigma surrounding mental health is societal. By sharing your experience and opening up is what helps reduce the stigma. Until people open about their experience, they don’t realize how many other people seek help. (15:50)

During this pandemic, there has been heightened anxiety and stress for individuals. In addition, there are plenty of hard things that our teens are dealing with. Teens are bombarded with information from social media, and they don’t get a break.  In addition, it is difficult for youth to turn off social media. (17:00)

Dr. Merk goes on to discuss how parents should value the communication between themselves and their children.  Parents or parental figures should create an environment where your kids can come to you with difficult questions. It is important for parents to try to connect in positive ways with their kids. Furthermore, it is important for parents to be aware of how much their kids are engaged in the media.  (23:36)

Dr. Merk discusses how the brain, and the body are connected.  She discusses that we know the brain is a part of your body. The way to keep our brain healthy is a way to keep our body healthy. For example, get good quality sleep, make sure you eat healthy regular meals, participate in physical activity, and hydrate. In addition, we want to be well balanced in daily life. It is  important to have downtime and play time. Furthermore, when we are stressed, our brain doesn’t preform well. So, it is important we take care of our stress and emotions.  (26:45)


Dr. Suzanne Sampang – Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

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