Mental Health

All Articles in the Category ‘Mental Health’

Dr. Gina Sequeira Discusses Gender Identity and Explains How Caregivers Can Support Gender-Diverse Children

This week, JAMA Pediatrics published an article by Dr. Gina Sequeira, co-director of Seattle Children’s Gender Clinic, about gender identity. In the article, Sequeira discusses what gender identity is, explains gender related terms, and offers recommendations to caregivers to help them support gender-diverse children.

Gender identity is unique to each person and is used to describe a person’s internal sense of being male, female, some of both or neither, Sequeira says. Terms like transgender and gender-diverse, may be used to describe individuals whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. Recent estimates suggest as many as 10% of high school aged youth have a gender identity that differs from their sex assigned at birth. Read full post »

Supporting Youth Mental Wellness into Post-pandemic Life

Thanks to wider availability of vaccines and declining local rates of COVID-19, we’ve entered a new period in the pandemic. Parts of life are returning to what families were used to before coronavirus temporarily disrupted so much. As we increasingly return to obligations and pleasure outside of the home, it’s important to be aware that youth and adults alike will be learning to cope with emotions and feelings related to the experiences of the past year.

On the Pulse spoke with Dr. Yolanda Evans, an adolescent medicine physician at Seattle Children’s, about what kids and teens have experienced and how best to support them through this new period of time. Read full post »

Eight Things You Should Know About the Stress You’re Experiencing

For many of us, the past year has been uniquely stressful. Have you felt especially exhausted, struggled to focus or been more irritable than usual? Maybe you’ve found yourself wondering why you can’t cope with the stress better.

“There are very real, biological reasons why we’re finding it harder than usual to perform,” said Dr. Shannon Simmons, a psychiatrist at Seattle Children’s and medical director of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit. “Under today’s stressors, it’s common to feel fatigued, have a shorter attention span, have a harder time planning things or be more easily irritated and frustrated.”

On The Pulse asked Simmons and Dr. Mendy Minjarez, a psychologist and executive director of Seattle Children’s Autism Center, what parents, caregivers and other adults should know about the stress they may be experiencing and how they can best cope with it.

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How Reese Discovered a Life Worth Living

When Reese Patterson was in sixth grade, she experienced vicious cyberbullying from several of her peers.

“Every day I would get texts from people who would tell me to kill myself,” Reese said. “When you are told to do that every single day, you actually start to believe it.”

Reese’s mother, Val, recalls trying to work with her school to get the bullying to stop.

“We tried to work with the school, and they said it was out of their hands since it happened outside of the school day,” Val said. “We reported it to police after she overdosed, which became a big joke by some of the kids at school. From there, things got even worse.”

Reese began self-harming through cutting.

“Her school called me when they noticed her cutting,” Val said. “The school suggested I contact Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital, and we went straight there that afternoon. The social worker felt that Reese’s situation wasn’t serious enough and that she’d learn more dangerous behaviors while inpatient. All we were left with was a list of therapists to call.”

Things continued to unravel, as Reese’s cutting became more severe.

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The Nadella Family Commits to a Hopeful and Brighter Future for all Children and Families, Supporting Advanced Precision Medicine Neurosciences and Mental and Behavioral Health Care

Zain Nadella is 24 years old. When his family talks about him, they light up. They speak about his eclectic taste in music, his warm sunny smile, and the love he has for his family. Zain has had to struggle against tremendous adversity due to his medical condition. His journey has shaped the Nadella family’s story to one of resilience, empathy, and determination to realize the promise of a brighter future for children with neurological conditions.

Hours after Zain was born, he was rushed to Seattle Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Born with cerebral palsy, he fought for survival in those first few months and required life-saving treatment. His parents, Satya and Anu Nadella, put their trust in the doctors and care providers at Seattle Children’s. Zain’s birth story was not what they had imagined. He was born weighing just 3 pounds and suffered asphyxiation in utero. When they found themselves surrounded by beeping machines and an army of healthcare providers, their focus shifted.

“Like our baby, I too was in survival mode,” Anu said. “I was focused on taking one day at a time.”

Today, Zain still faces many challenges. Zain’s health issues have only intensified as he has grown. He is legally blind and is affected by spastic quadriplegia and has required complex care at Seattle Children’s. The Nadella family likens the hospital to a second home. Read full post »

Responding to Our State’s Youth Mental Health Emergency

Dr. Alysha Thompson is the clinical director of the Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Unit (PBMU) at Seattle Children’s. She’s seen first-hand the impact the pandemic has had on youth mental health. She shares how dire the situation has become and provides advice for parents.

We are a year into an unprecedented pandemic that has taken a toll on all our lives. Children and adolescents are feeling this acutely – over the past year we’ve seen a significant increase in mental health-related visits to the emergency room and an increase in youth suicide.

Even before the pandemic, children and adolescents had the most significant rise in suicides over the past two decades compared to other age groups. However, as schools have moved to virtual learning, as people have been isolated from their friends and family, and all the normal structures that bring joy to our lives and give us things to look forward to have altered dramatically, we have seen an even further increase in suicide and suicidal ideation in youth. Read full post »

Study Shows Youth Seeking Gender-Affirming Care Were Satisfied with Telemedicine Appointments During COVID-19

This past year, as many individuals sought health care through telemedicine, a question formed in Dr. Gina Sequeira’s mind. As the co-director of the Gender Clinic at Seattle Children’s, her mission is to make gender-affirming care accessible for all youth, and so the capabilities of telehealth are rightfully an exciting new territory to explore. With the growth of telemedicine and its potential to improve access to care, Sequeira wanted to better understand gender diverse youths’ experiences with and satisfaction receiving virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published in Transgender Health, Sequeira, the lead author, found the majority of youth who participated in the study were satisfied with telemedicine and would be willing to use it again in the future. Although many said they preferred in-person visits, about 88% of gender diverse adolescents were satisfied with conducting gender clinic visits using telemedicine.

“Telemedicine has been a great way for us to support gender diverse youth and their families during the pandemic. Because of the limited number of pediatric gender-affirming care providers in the region, prior to the pandemic, many families experienced geographic and cost related barriers to receiving this care. We are hopeful that by continuing to offer gender clinic visits over telemedicine we will be able to overcome some of those barriers.” Sequeira said. Read full post »

Novel Collaborative Care Approach Shows Promise in Treating Youth with Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms

Hannah Nash suffered a concussion in 2018 and experienced PPCS. Today, she attends the University of Washington.

On Dec. 26, 2018, 18-year-old Hannah Nash, an avid basketball player, was hit in the head while at basketball practice. She initially felt a sharp pain and her head felt foggy. She recalled leaving practice abruptly. The next day, she played in a game, but she didn’t feel like herself.

“I played terribly,” Nash said. “I was just off.”

She went to her pediatrician, and they treated her symptoms like a concussion. She was told to rest. On Jan. 3, 2018, she fainted in her kitchen and hit her head again.

Every year, an estimated 1.1 to 1.9 million youth suffer a sports-related concussion. Common post-concussion symptoms include headache, fatigue, irritability, dizziness and poor academic performance. Depression and anxiety are also commonly reported and have been shown to be associated with prolonged recovery from concussion. For most individuals, symptoms resolve within days or weeks of a concussion, but for youth like Nash, that isn’t always the case. For adolescents who experience persistent post-concussive symptoms (PPCS), the burden on their families, academic achievement and other areas of life can be enormous. Read full post »

NFL Player Myles Gaskin Spotlights Youth Mental Health Through ‘My Cause My Cleats’

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Miami Dolphins

During the month of December, NFL players sport a different look on their feet with custom designed cleats aimed to represent a cause that they feel most passionate about.

It was only natural for Myles Gaskin, former University of Washington (UW) Huskies football player, now running back with the Miami Dolphins, to choose a cause that hits close to home in more ways than one.

“Growing up in Seattle, I always knew about Seattle Children’s, so when I was playing for UW, teammates and I decided to visit the hospital a few different times to meet some the kids,” said Gaskin. “The whole experience really opened my eyes to see how much you can impact someone by just giving them your time.”

With Seattle Children’s in mind for his cause, Gaskin wanted to zero in on another issue that deeply spoke to him.

Read full post »

Winter Blues or Something More? Helping Kids and Teens Cope

Winter can be a particularly blue time of the year for people. Darker, colder days and the post-holiday letdown often cause a decline in mood and motivation.

It’s normal for all kids to experience emotional ups and downs, including the winter blues. With the COVID-related changes in school and social activities this winter, youth may be especially vulnerable to increased moodiness and irritability. But at least one in five kids will have a diagnosable mental health problem that needs treatment.

Parents can support their child or teen as they cope with seasonal sadness, while being alert to the signs and symptoms of mental health problems that require expert care. Read full post »