Shrinking It Down: Mental Health Made Simple


Co-hosted by two shrinks, Shrinking It Down: Mental Health Made Simple plays up the fact that mental health is anything but simple, while helping parents and other caregivers to navigate some tough questions. Join Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Steve Schlozman as they banter, reflect and provide practical guidance on a range topics related to the emotional and behavioral well-being of children, teens and young adults. From depression and learning issues, to the political climate and digital media, Shrinking It Down covers it all. Tune in today!About Us: The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital is a free, online resource dedicated to promoting the mental, emotional, and behavioral well-being of young people through innovative education. Visit us online at


  • Medications: For Better or Worse? featuring Tim Wilens, MD

    Medications: For Better or Worse? featuring Tim Wilens, MD

    24/06/2020 Duración: 34min

    Many parents of kids struggling with a mental health issue have concerns – even fears – about medication as a part of treatment. Will it help? Will it hurt? What are the side effects? Today, Dr. Tim Wilens, chief of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, joins Gene and Ellen to talk about prescribed medications, and other substances used recreationally to ease symptoms: How they can help, how they can harm, and how to know when medication should be considered for your child or teen. Plus, a closer look at medications for treating ADHD. Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have a question or comment about medications and mental health? Write to us!Media ListTim Wilens, MD, Chief, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (Massachusetts General Hospital) George Floyd: protests take place around the world (The Guardian) Today, Explained - “The Talk” (Vox) COVID-19 and Col

  • Managing Challenging Behavior in Kids During Stressful Times, featuring J. Stuart Ablon, PhD – Shrinking It Down

    Managing Challenging Behavior in Kids During Stressful Times, featuring J. Stuart Ablon, PhD – Shrinking It Down

    10/06/2020 Duración: 35min

    These past months and weeks have put tremendous stress on families across the country, on top of the daily challenges we were already navigating. And under tremendous stress, it can become even harder to regulate our emotions, leaving our kids – and even us – struggling with challenging behavior. In today’s episode, Dr. Stuart Ablon, Director of Think:Kids at Massachusetts General Hospital, joins Gene to talk through strategies to help you and your kids do the best you can right now. A huge part of this is changing our mindset to remember that challenging behavior is about skill, not will – none of us act out on purpose. Kids behave well if they can, and so do parents. Tune in for ways to focus your energy on building new coping skills for the whole family. Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have questions or comments about addressing kids' climate anxiety? Write to us!Media ListTHINK:Kids (Massachusetts General Hospital)Helping Kids with Challenging Behavior, featuring

  • Climate Anxiety and Kids, featuring Elizabeth G. Pinsky, MD

    Climate Anxiety and Kids, featuring Elizabeth G. Pinsky, MD

    13/05/2020 Duración: 43min

    Many kids and teens are growing more worried about climate change. Scary predictions about the future and lack of government action can make them feel the crisis is out of their control. How can parents help their kids cope with climate anxiety?On today’s episode of Shrinking It Down, Dr. Elizabeth Pinsky, a pediatrician and child psychiatrist at Mass General Hospital for Children, and mom of two young kids, joins Gene to discuss how parents can talk about climate change to kids of different ages, and ways to empower them to take action in their daily lives. Tune in for more! Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have questions or comments about helping kids with climate anxiety? Write to us!Media List Elizabeth Pinsky, MD (Massachusetts General Hospital for Children)  Working from home with kids feels unsustainable. Here’s how to ease the burden. (Vox) How One Boston Doctor And Her Family Confront Climate Change (WBUR) Mass General Remains Safe, Re

  • COVID-19 and College Students

    COVID-19 and College Students

    29/04/2020 Duración: 38min

    When teens leave home for college, it’s natural for both parents and young adults to adjust to new lifestyles and living apart. But many college students unexpectedly returned home due to the coronavirus pandemic, and this can pose challenges for families as they reestablish norms and expectations for living together. How can parents and young adults find the right balance between respect and independence during this time of uncertainty?  On today’s episode of Shrinking It Down, Dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins, Associate Director of MGH's Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Training Program and parent to a college freshman, joins Gene to discuss what this transition means for college students, and how parents can help them process their feelings and concerns. Tune in for more!  Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have questions or comments about supporting college students during this pandemic? Write to us! Media List&n

  • Growing Up With a Parent on the Autism Spectrum, featuring Hillary Hurst Bush, PhD

    Growing Up With a Parent on the Autism Spectrum, featuring Hillary Hurst Bush, PhD

    15/04/2020 Duración: 28min

    If you do an online search for the words “parenting” and “autism,” most of the results will be about parents who don’t have autism raising children who do. But what if you’re a parent on the autism spectrum, or have a partner or co-parent who is? In today’s episode of Shrinking It Down, Gene welcomes special guest Dr. Hillary Hurst Bush to share her story of growing up with a Dad with autism – both from the perspective of her younger self and her professional experience as a neuropsychologist with the Learning and Emotional Assessment Program at Mass General Hospital. Even with challenges along the way, Hillary’s dad offered unique parenting strengths that stemmed from his differences, including dependability, reliability, and loyalty. Tune in for more. Have a question for Dr. Bush, or want to share your own story about growing up with a parent on the autism spectrum? Write to us! Media List Hillary Hurst Bush, PhD (Massachusetts General Hospital) Learning and

  • COVID-19: Mental Health Check-In

    COVID-19: Mental Health Check-In

    25/03/2020 Duración: 10min

    Life as we know it has changed since our last episode. Disruptions, anxiety, and uncertainty surrounding the new coronavirus disease have affected us all. While we can’t immediately change this public health crisis – though we can do our part by staying home if we’re able! - we do have the power to change how we think about our individual situations, and help our children and teens to do the same.In today’s short episode, Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Ellen Braaten take a mental health break to check in with all of you, to check in with each other, and to brainstorm ways for us all to seek out positive aspects of the challenges we're facing, and to take things one day at a time. We’re in this together. In fact, the whole world. And we can manage this.Also, it gives us such hope to hear your stories! Please write to us at about how you’ve been managing during this time with your family.Media List7 Ways to Support Kids and Teens Through the Coronavirus Pandemic (MGH Clay Center)7 MANERAS DE

  • Well be back March 25!

    We'll be back March 25!

    04/03/2020 Duración: 02min

    We're taking a short break, but we've got a great line up of topics and guests for the spring. A sample of what's to come:Surviving a Screw UpGrowing Up With a Parent With AutismClimate Change AnxietyAdvocating for Your Child With Learning Differences In School (a follow up to our first Facebook Live Q+A, featuring Dr. Ellen Braaten)Going Off MedicationsAll this and more. We'll see you back March 25! For information regarding your data privacy, visit

  • Is Your Teen an Emotional Sponge?

    Is Your Teen an Emotional Sponge?

    26/02/2020 Duración: 24min

    Peers can be an excellent source of social support, and it’s great that more young people today talk to friends about their emotional challenges. But for every teen who shares, there’s another teen absorbing the info like an emotional sponge. And while it feels good to help a friend, it can also feel overwhelming - even scary - to be a friend's sole source of support, especially for serious issues.On today’s episode of Shrinking It Down, Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Ellen Braaten help parents to think about the pros and cons of being an emotional sponge, ways for teens to set boundaries around what they can do on their own, and strategies to bring in others to help a friend in need, when it needs to be part of a team effort.Thanks for joining in this conversation. If you have a comment or question about being an emotional sponge, write to us!Media List Steve Martin and Chris Rock Welcome Everyone to Oscars 2020 (YouTube) Movie Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Co

  • Well Miss You, Steve!

    We'll Miss You, Steve!

    19/02/2020 Duración: 02min

    Seasons change, and so do podcast co-hosts. Since the beginning, Shrinking It Down has been co-hosted by child psychiatrists Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Steven Schlozman. But alas, Steve is moving on to the next creative chapter in his life. It's been a long run, Steve, and a great one. Thank you for everything. We'll miss you so!Media ListIt's Time for Saying Goodbye - Muppets Take Manhattan (YouTube)The Importance of Stories for Child Mental Health (MGH Clay Center)Nature Versus Nurture (Steve's last podcast episode) (Acast)Follow Steve @zombieautopsies (Twitter)Read stuff by Steve (Amazon)Read more stuff by Steve (Psychology Today)Watch stuff with Steve (IMDB)Produced by Sara RattiganMusic by Gene Beresin

  • Nature vs. Nurture, featuring Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD

    Nature vs. Nurture, featuring Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD

    12/02/2020 Duración: 38min

    Many parents worry that their own or a family member’s mental health disorder destine their children to struggle in the same way. But, while many psychiatric disorders do run in families to some extent, so do lots of things! Right down to food preferences and professions. So, how much do genes have to do with it? On today’s episode of Shrinking It Down, special guest Dr. Jordan Smoller, of MGH’s Center for Genomic Medicine, joins Gene and Steve to discuss how nature and nurture always work together. How much does our environment influence our lives and compete with our genes? What are the biggest protective factors against mental health issues, regardless of what we’re born with? Plus, how Sesame Street helps to support kids and families, everywhere. Tune in for more.Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have questions or comments about genes and mental health? Write to us! Media List Jordan W. Smoller, MD, ScD (Center for Genomic Medicine)&nbs

  • Extra Time on Tests - Does It Work?

    Extra Time on Tests - Does It Work?

    29/01/2020 Duración: 28min

    When “extra time” on tests first began decades ago, the goal was to level the playing field for students with learning disabilities by allotting them the same amount of time that everyone else had. Today, it seems every parent thinks their kid could benefit from extra time on tests, and in some cases will go to great lengths to get it. But does extra time really help a student to score higher on exams? On today’s episode of Shrinking It Down, Gene and Ellen discuss the three types of specific learning disabilities for which a child might benefit from extra time on tests, and the types of struggles and disorders for which extra time won’t help a child (even if they can get it). Plus, tips to support kids in test taking, no matter what their challenges, including how to manage anxiety and organizational skills.Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have questions or comments about extra time on tests or learning and attention issues? Write to us!Media List·     Star Wars: Rise of t

  • Kids Under Surveillance!

    Kids Under Surveillance!

    15/01/2020 Duración: 33min

    Today’s kids and teens are increasingly under surveillance, including by their own schools and parents. In some ways this is nothing new. Adults have always monitored kids for risk. But in today’s digital age, there are so many more ways to watch our kids’ every move – social media, cell phones, e-mail, even school apps intended for learning.  A lot of kids and even parents don’t know what kinds of surveillance schools are conducting on students, and many kids may not be aware of how their own parents are keeping tabs. While the aim is to keep kids safe, we don’t yet have enough data to show how it’s working. Do these efforts actually keep kids safer, or do the consequences outweigh the benefits? On today’s episode, Gene and Steve discuss the challenges parents and schools face, and why it’s important to balance oversight with maintaining trust between adults and kids. Thanks for joining in this conversation. Do you have questions or comments ab

  • Well be back January 15!

    We''ll be back January 15!

    31/12/2019 Duración: 53s

    We'll be back January 15 with new episodes, including conversations about digital and social media surveillance of kids and teens, and genetics and mental health. Hope you have a peaceful holiday season. See you in a couple of weeks!

  • New Year 2020: We Can Manage This!

    New Year 2020: We Can Manage This!

    18/12/2019 Duración: 31min

    Did you know? According to a recent Clay Center survey, six out of 10 parents encourage their kids to adopt New Year’s resolutions. To bring in the new year (and decade!), we’re dedicating our last show of 2019 to strategies on guiding young people towards meaningful and manageable goals. From getting specific about the “how,” to finding that spark in your child, to involving the whole family, Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Ellen Braaten talk through different ways of framing goals to set us all up for success in 2020. Plus, they make their own resolutions based on their own advice.Thank you for joining in this conversation. What resolutions will your family make for 2020, and how do you plan to follow through? We’d love to know! Write to us at ListAround Town: The Yankee Swap, a gift exchange with a twist (Wicked Local)2019 New Year Resolutions (Statista)Your New Year’s resolution will likely fail. Here’s why you should make one anyway, researchers say (Miami Herald)This Year, Don’t

  • Making Family Dinner Possible, featuring Anne Fishel, PhD

    Making Family Dinner Possible, featuring Anne Fishel, PhD

    04/12/2019 Duración: 30min

    There are many emotional benefits that come from connecting over a family dinner. But with the competing demands of reality, like busy schedules, technology, and picky eaters, this simple idea isn’t always so simple. On today’s episode, Dr. Anne Fishel, executive director of The Family Dinner Project at Massachusetts General Hospital, joins Gene and Steve to discuss her new book, Eat, Laugh, Talk! From speaking with thousands of different families – including single-parent, three-generational, those with infants, those with teens – this book crowd sources the best tips that real families have found to make dinner an easier lift, along with conversation starters, games, and some great recipes. Added bonus? Dr. Fishel gives advice for keeping politics off the dinner table.Thank you for joining in this conversation! Have a family dinner story to share with us? We’d love to hear. Write to us!Media ListThe Family Dinner Project at MGHThe Unexpected and Long-Term Benefits of Family Dinner (Mass General News)Eat, La

  • Is This Normal?

    Is This Normal?

    20/11/2019 Duración: 24min

    One of the most common questions Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Steve Schlozman hear from parents, as adolescent psychiatrists, is: “How can I tell if my kid is struggling with a mental health issue?” All kids go through behavioral phases and changes at different stages of life. But when it comes to teens, in particular, it can be hard to tell the difference between typical irritability, withdrawal, and fatigue and something more problematic. When is it cause for concern? The answers to these questions are not crystal clear, but in today’s episode Gene and Steve provide tips and guidance on how to know if your child could use some help. Plus, we’ll share info about an incredible Youth Mental Health First Aid resource for parents and other adults who support young people. Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have thoughts or questions on today’s topic? Write to us! We’d love to hear from you.Media ListBig Hair Ballads (YouTube)Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool (IMDB)Most parents struggle to distinguish teen

  • The Loneliest Generation

    The Loneliest Generation

    06/11/2019 Duración: 26min

    Data suggest that Generation Z, the teens and young adults coming of age right now, feels lonelier than any other age group. But we don’t know why. Is it a symptom of digital and social media or the hyper-scheduling of their daily lives? Does it stem from anger about or hopelessness of dwindling future prospects? No one has the answers, but it’s concerning as loneliness can negatively affect both physical and mental health. In this episode of Shrinking It Down, Dr. Gene Beresin and Dr. Steve Schlozman look to the literature and to their child psychiatrist instincts to help parents and other adults brainstorm why this might be, and what we can do to support the young people in our lives.Thank you for joining in this conversation. Do you have ideas about why teens today are so lonely? We’d love to know. Please write to us! Media ListSolipsism (Philosophy Terms)Blue Pill or Red Pill (The Matrix)The Death of a Pet (MGH Clay Center)New Cigna Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America (PR Newswire)

  • Stay In Shape: Kids Bodies Feed Their Minds, featuring Ming Sun, MCHES

    Stay In Shape: Kids' Bodies Feed Their Minds, featuring Ming Sun, MCHES

    23/10/2019 Duración: 31min

    How can we guide children to healthfully navigate food, fitness, sleep, and more (especially when Takis® taste so much better than eggs for breakfast)? These aren’t just important for physical health but mental health, as well. The MGH Stay In Shape Program for elementary and middle school students, going on 20 years strong, is one solution that’s benefited several communities in Massachusetts. In today’s episode, special guest Ming Sun, MCHES, of MGH Community Health Associates, joins host Steve Schlozman, MD to share more about Stay In Shape – including strategies to help kids set goals around activities that will benefit their bodies and minds.Thank you for joining in this conversation. Do you have a program like this in your community? We’d love to hear about it. Write to us!Media ListNutrition and Mental Health: It’s More Complicated Than You Think (MGH Clay Center)MGH Community Health AssociatesMGH Center for Community Health Improvement (CCHI)STAY IN SHAPE Program Curriculum (MGH Community Health Assoc

  • Money + Mental Health: Supporting Young Adult Children, With Limits, featuring Rand Spero, CFP

    Money + Mental Health: Supporting Young Adult Children, With Limits, featuring Rand Spero, CFP

    09/10/2019 Duración: 31min

    If you’re a parent, you’ve likely spent time thinking about your child’s future after age 18. Whether it’s going to college, finding a job, finding an apartment – taking that first step towards independence is ultimately tied to…money! Where that money should come from is a complicated issue, and it’s not the same issue it was 20 or 30 years ago. What does this mean for both parent and child mental health? Special guest Rand Spero, CFP, MBA, EdM joins our co-director Dr. Ellen Braaten to talk about the economic realities of young adulthood today, including strategies for families to embrace.Thank you for joining in this conversation. Have a question or comment about financially supporting the young adults in your life? Write to us at ListAdult children are costing many parents their retirement savings (CBS News)Price Of College Increasing Almost 8 Times Faster Than Wages (Forbes)Life Support (Rand Spero, Humble Dollar)Student Debt is Transforming the American Family (The New Yo

  • When Kids Talk of Suicide

    When Kids Talk of Suicide

    25/09/2019 Duración: 28min

    As the summer fades and we move into Autumn, activities in our lives start to build up and so can the stress. Perhaps this is one reason that September is national Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. It’s an unsettling topic, but in our first episode of the season Gene and Steve talk about young people and suicide – not to bring folks down but to give it the time it deserves. Whether you’re trying to make sense of increasing suicide rates, practicing how to talk in detail to a young person you’re concerned about, wondering how to talk to a neighbor who has been impacted, or simply trying to be aware of the supports out there, please tune in.A special thanks to those of you who sent in your thoughts; they were helpful in planning this episode. Thank you all for joining in this conversation. If you have comments or questions, please e-mail us at Media ListNCHS data brief: Increase in Suicide in the United States, 1999-2014 (National Center for Health Statistics)Suicide Rates Amon

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