Stories about: mental health

How to help an adolescent who is using cannabis

A greenhouse where cannabis plants are grown legally.
A greenhouse where cannabis plants are grown legally.

Over recent years, big shifts in the marijuana landscape have made it easier than ever for American teens to be exposed to cannabis and to have the opportunity to use it.

Currently, only six states consider all forms of cannabis use to be illegal. Meanwhile, most states legally allow at least some medical cannabis use and several (including Massachusetts) have already legalized both medical and recreational use for adults.

“Whatever your views are on medical or recreational cannabis use for adults, however, there’s near-universal agreement that adolescents should not use cannabis,” says Lydia Shrier, MD, MPH, who directs clinic-based research in the Boston Children’s Hospital Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine.

But the legal system’s increasing support of cannabis and a rise in public approval of the drug has lowered the perception of risks associated with its use. As a result, in states where medical or recreational use for adults is legal, adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 are more likely to use cannabis than in states where all uses of the drug are illegal. …Read More

Managing anxiety in primary care pediatrics

managing anxiety in children

Anxiety is common in children and adolescents, but at what point does it cross the line and become a mental health concern? Notes posed this question to clinical psychologist Keneisha Sinclair-McBride, PhD, and child psychiatrist Olivia Carrick, MD, both in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Children’s, and asked their management advice. …Read More

Helping Teens with Depression

A recent study published in Pediatrics set off alarm bells for many people who care for teens and young adults. The researchers found an increase in the rate of depression in this population between 2005 and 2014. The most dramatic rise was in girls ages 12 to 18.

Yet, despite the rising numbers of young people facing depression, the study found no correlating increase in the number of teens or young adults seeking treatment. This is worrisome to the study’s authors, who called for more outreach efforts from pediatricians and school health services.

“Overall, I think many Massachusetts pediatricians are doing an excellent job of diagnosing and managing depression in young people,” says Oscar Bukstein, MD, MPH, associate psychiatrist-in-chief and vice chairman of psychiatry at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We’re going in the right direction, but we have a huge population. There’s really no other chronic condition that affects such a large percentage of the population. And the numbers are rising.” …Read More

Project LAUNCH: Promoting positive mental health in the very young

project launch photo shutterstock_429711796

On a recent unexceptional night, a five-year-old girl hears gunshots from her bedroom. She freezes. It may be the first time she has heard that sound, or maybe the second. She starts to avoid her bedroom and fear bedtime. The girl’s mother reports to the pediatrician that her daughter is throwing tantrums and can’t sleep through the night.

“The reality is that young children are  profoundly psychologically affected by issues such as violence in the community and at home, housing insecurity and homelessness – especially when those issues affect their parents in particular,” says Emily Fischer, LICSW, director of Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) at Boston Children’s Primary Care at Martha Eliot.

…Read More