COVID’s Impact on Children’s Mental Health & How We Can Help with guest Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

In this episode of the Brainy Moms parenting podcast, Dr. Amy & Teri interview Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge: psychologist, mental health trailblazer, founder of the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, a media expert who is changing the way we view and treat children’s mental health, and author of the book, It’s Gonna Be OK!   

Dr. Roseann shares how the pandemic has worsened the mental health crisis for our children and adolescents and what we are seeing as a result. She talks about the impact of social isolation and how children are struggling with regulating their emotions and their basic abilities to communicate with others. The good news? There are ways we can help. Dr. Roseann offers some fantastic tips for parents and reassures us that despite the current challenges, it’s going to be okay!

Read the transcript and show notes for this episode:

EPISODE 119
COVID’s Impact on Children’s Mental Health & How We Can Help
with guest Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore, here with my cohost Teri Miller, and we are coming to you today from a very hot and sunny Colorado.

Teri Miller:

Yep.

Dr. Amy Moore:

We are so excited to introduce you to a special guest today, a very brainy mom, Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge. Dr. Roseann is a psychologist, mental health trailblazer, founder of the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health, a media expert who is changing the way we view and treat children’s mental health. Her work has helped thousands reverse the most challenging conditions like ADHD, anxiety, and OCD, mood, Lyme, PANS, and PANDAS using proven holistic therapies. She’s the author of the books The Teletherapy Toolkit and It’s Gonna Be OK. And because she is so trusted, she has been featured on dozens of media outlets including Fox, CBS, NBC, Parents, and the New York Times. She’s here today to talk to us about child and adolescent mental health and what we as parents need to know in order to help.

Teri Miller:

Dr. Roseann, I’m so glad you’re here with us.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I’m so glad to be here. I love chatting with other brainy moms and it’s all about helping families better their kids’ health, whatever is going on, and really using the science to inform how we make that change. So I love being with other nerdy ladies like yourself.

Teri Miller:

Thank you, yes. Well, hey, before we get started in the nitty gritty of questions, if you’d just give our listeners a little personal story, a little background, tell us your mom story.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. I actually have been married, in a few weeks it’ll be 26 years. And after you’re married 20 years, at least in the area where I live, I feel comfortable telling people I adore my husband and we get along really well because it’s not a common thing, to really get along with your spouse. And we really have a lot of fun and a lot of joy. And so I had my doctorate when I was 28. And I had already been married a number of years. And we waited 10 years to have kids. And so I have been holistic my whole life, as a daughter of Italian immigrants. And I love to tell people, this was a million years ago, I did things like prenatal detoxing to prepare and you have this grand vision of all these things that happen. And so I’m the mom of two boys. And both my boys are special needs.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And my 16 year old, Max, got Lyme disease at 22 months. And so he has brought a lot of ups and downs into our lives, and a lot of blessings through the pain. And what we learned is that he a kid with PANS, which is the onset of psychiatric issues as a result of infectious disease. And he is, thank God, doing pretty darn good today, through a lot of treatments and a lot of things. And I already was a person who was specializing in solutions for struggling kids, had been working, as we talked before 30 years. And then my youngest, John Carlo, he’s the type of kid where you understand why people have six kids, because he’s just so easy to parent. He’s also a dyslexic, but it’s so far outside of his identity it’s so funny.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Both my kids are really strong, independent kids who know themselves, and speak their mind, and really know how to connect with their inner voice as well as their higher power. And I just love that. So they’re a lot of fun, and they think their mom and dad are really pretty funny, and they tolerate our obnoxious, juvenile humor, and so that’s my parenting journey. And it’s not easy when you’re the mom of kids with special needs in so many ways, but I try to hold onto the blessings and ride through some of those challenges, which sometimes are really outside of our control.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely. Yeah, we have kids with special needs as well, so we get that. We get that journey.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

We’re having a mental health crisis right now, especially among teens. And so I would love for you to talk to us a little bit about the reasons that we’re seeing that, both before and after the pandemic.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And your state, Colorado, declared a state of emergency.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I know.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And our county-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So-

Dr. Amy Moore:

… has the worst.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Right. Yeah. Let’s talk about this. I started the Global Institute of Children’s Mental Health right before the pandemic because I already was so concerned. So we’ve all been working with kids and families for decades at this point, ladies. We look real good. Take care of your skin. And so what happens is what is going on? Why is this happening? What’s happening right now? Has the pandemic worsened it? Absolutely. We know through survey research in Asia, Europe, and in the States, that we do have an uptick in anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. This is not speculation. We are getting reported facts. We know through the Stress in America survey through the APA that 70% of parents report significant stress due to pandemic parenting. Okay. We know we have stressed kids and families, and even beyond that, there’s clinical issues. So what is going on? Why is the average age of anxiety now age six? Why has suicide rates before the pandemic doubled 56% increase than the 10 years before? No one answer.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

But we do know and we’ll talk about protective factors and risk factors for really, why are kids going to have a harder time and why are kids going to get through this? But let’s talk about what’s happening to kids in general. Massive increase in stress. And we think we can outwit stress. It’s like saying, you know your tires are bad and you’re just going to keep riding on them even though you know a bad winter is coming. So you run this risk. Like, “It’s not going to snow today, so I can live on worn out tires. But as soon as it snows, I’m not going to be able to drive my car.” It’s that same kind of idea of stress. We think, “Well, it’s just something we have to live with.” And yes, there are things we can do to be neuro protective and really help us, but you can’t just wish it. You can’t be like, “Oh, I wish it was better.” And not take action on it.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So our kids are really these absorbers of everything that’s happening. And we have genetic mutations increasing, we have poor food quality. We do have an absolute change in how there’s an increase in kids with special needs, neurodevelopmental disorders. Somebody was telling me, and I don’t know the research behind this, but we do know that one in 37 children now are born with autism. And they say that in about 25 years at this trajectory, one in four children will be on the autistic spectrum, which I can’t even imagine the financial implications of the country with one in four children being on the autistic spectrum when the typical child on the spectrum is what we call mid-functioning and needs a lot of services. So many things converging at once. We’re fragile. Then this pandemic happens. And the biggest difficulty, I think, in the pandemic besides, obviously, disjointed education, social isolation. Right?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And when we talk about what are things that we know get people through trauma, get through difficult situations? I did a lot of work at Sandy Hook. I’ve also done a lot of work with 9/11 survivors, because I’m outside of New York City and I had a office in Newtown, Connecticut. And so what helped people get through it? What you bring to the table in a stressful event is what helps you get through it. So we know if you have good social connections, if you actually have faith, and you have support. You have, hello, coping skills which, to me, is the single greatest decline in children today. If you think about when we were working in the ’90s and the 2000s, kids were allowed to make mistakes.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And today bubble wrap parenting prevails, where you don’t want your kid to feel any discomfort, you know?

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Oh, we’ve talked about this so much.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Right.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So much about helicopter parenting, and not allowing children to fall and fail in the safety of your loving relationships, where you can catch them on the bounce. Right?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. And what’s the neuroscience behind that? The neuroscience is, because we’re brainy ladies. I always say brainy, nerdy stuff with Dr. Ro. We have to look at how neuroscience informs our behavior so that we can improve things for kids and for everybody. That’s how I base all of my work, my clinical work, is all about science-backed strategies, tools, methods. And so the science says in learning, if a child learns, “I have a problem. Somebody is my life preserver. Somebody else is my life preserver.” They will then repeat that pattern. If they realize, “I have a problem. I’m going to get uncomfortable. I’m going to find a solution.” They learn you can be uncomfortable and have a solution. And instead, we’re just constantly trying to fix things for kids.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I think one of the biggest things that’s happened in this pandemic, and a trend that I don’t like is boy, people feel very comfortable being rude. And I live in a area of the world where there’s a very intensity in the northeast. People are very comfortable speaking their mind even if it’s hurtful. And yesterday I saw a mom I knew. And long story short, there’s always a snottiness to this mom. She always is that mom that can’t say, “My daughter is doing a sport.” She has to say, “You know my daughter’s a number one.”

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And I’m like, “I haven’t seen you in a year, and you got to tell me that? Okay. Yeah. That’s great.” She’s not my bestie, like, “Oh my God, Becca’s number one.” Our kids are in the same robotics camp. And my kid is 10 and her kid is 12. And she said, “Hey,” whatever his name is. “Hey. Make sure you talk to,” my kid’s name is John Carlo, everybody calls him JC. And he literally said, “No.” And I said, “Wow, that’s pretty rude.” And his mom then came in and made an excuse for him.

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Now, I grew up, my mom would have said, “Who are you to say that to somebody else?”

Teri Miller:

Right, yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And instead, she rescued him and I thought, “Wow, you’re just reinforcing rudeness.” Right?

Teri Miller:

Sure.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And her response was awkward, and then like, “Well, he’s 12.” And I was like, “I’m- ” [crosstalk 00:12:17]

Teri Miller:

Yes, he’s strong, powerful, and competent. He’s 12.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So I was like-

Teri Miller:

He can use proper language.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

“You just reinforced him being a jerk, lady.”

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So there’s so many layers in what happens. I don’t know what that answer was. The kid absolutely is raised by snotty people. So whatever. Right?

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

But we’re losing connection to people. We’re losing niceness to people. There are different regions in the country where people still have a sense of community. But I don’t think this would have happened when we were more connected even 15 or 20 years ago, was the point of my story. And I think people are having, like I talked from the beginning of the pandemic, reentry panic syndrome. Then I was talking about reentry anxiety. Now I’m talking about reentry socialization. Maybe that’s part of it.

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

We just don’t know how to socialize. But the lack of socialization in the pandemic and the heightened distress of parents has really crippled kids. And for those kids that are really struggling, their parents didn’t have their oxygen mask on. Their parents were overloaded, naturally. I think every parent that survived virtual learning in this pandemic should have a purple heart.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I can’t imagine having four kids at the table. Parents I knew had four kids homeschooling, didn’t want to be homeschoolers, and were trying to work or even just make a meal. That’s hard.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Teri, how many did you have at the table?

Teri Miller:

I have nine kids all together. There are six currently at home. But during all the pandemic, juggling the computer space, and the online space, I had five. So two in-

Dr. Amy Moore:

That is-

Teri Miller:

… high school and-

Dr. Amy Moore:

… hard.

Teri Miller:

… three in elementary.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

It was hard. It was really hard. There was a lot of tears, and a lot of frustration, and we need help, still.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. We weren’t trained for that.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And nor do we have the proper setup, you know-

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

… what I mean?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I think the one benefit is your kids had each other. There were some kids that were onlies or maybe there’s a huge age gap and it was very isolating as parents tried to work. They couldn’t give their kids the attention they needed. There’s no shame in that. They were doing the best that they could. But I think there’s ramifications. Right?

Teri Miller:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I think one of the surprising statistics that came out was that for any family that had an immediate family member with COVID, if they had a teen or a young adult at home, 50% had moderate to severe depression after.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So whether that’s fear, whether that’s social isolation because they got rejected, I don’t know what the outcome was, but that’s a real statistic. And these kids, these families are filtering back. And we still have the same ineffective systems that were supporting kids’ mental health in schools, right?

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And we’ve battle weary teachers leading the charge.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You know?

Teri Miller:

And systems that aren’t really working, and administration that’s trying to make them work, but they don’t really work. And it’s just been a mess.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So what’s the answer?

Teri Miller:

Well, instead of just jumping to the answer, I want to veer from our outline, here, and also focus on everything that you’re saying, also focus on the social media impact of that. Because I know our experience with that isolation was then the kids went towards social media connection as their only connection. And there was rudeness. There was posing. There was over-trumped up dramatization. So many different things that, I think created false identities. Good friend of mine, her teenage daughter expressed a desire, “I need a therapist. I need to start going to therapy.” And one of the things that showed up is she had had several, not particularly good friends, but several people in her circle, friends of friends that had committed suicide. And this is what she saw. That person was maybe problematic, dramatic, whatever, not particularly well-loved, but they committed suicide and then they were loved. And they were showered with all this social media praise and accolades.

Teri Miller:

And this teenage girl was getting this strange perspective that her life would be better if she committed suicide because she would be liked. And it was this strange mix of, “Wait a minute. But then you would be dead.” But she didn’t have the maturity to understand, “That doesn’t work. These people you’re seeing that are now dead and now loved … ” Anyway, I would love for you to address that, the pandemic, social media, what have you seen, how that has played out?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. And there’s a lot to unpack there, because I want to talk about suicide, too. So let’s start with that. And then let’s talk about the technology. One, I do a lot of training for professionals about suicide risks. And I do a lot of work with very complex cases. And I’m not afraid to work with kids with suicidal ideation when they follow my program. So they have to do some very intensive work. I don’t just take anybody. It’s a lot of work. There’s a lot of layers on it. And I use science-based approaches. And it puts people outside of the comfortable zone. I’m not using meds in therapy. We’re using very deep type of therapies that really get to those root causes and then require a lot of the kid and the family. There is no working with me without the family being a part of it. You don’t get to work with me. That’s how it works.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Suicide risks. Somebody else committing a suicide in the circle is one of the biggest risks of suicide for a teenager because of exactly what you’re talking about, Teri. There’s a mixed message. There’s confusing, there’s intention. There becomes, in their subconscious, an option, where maybe it wasn’t before. And we also have kids with poor coping skills in general. So they have these very uncomfortable feelings of grief, and loss, and fear. And they don’t know what to do with it, and they see somebody else who had a suicide. The number one suicide risk for a teenager is a breakup, just so everybody knows. So we can never dismiss a breakup as a leading factor in a suicide. There’s a whole bunch of other ones. But that is definitely one of it. Let’s talk about technology. 2019 research, kids seven to 12 are spending about four and a half hours a day on technology. It’s 2019.

Teri Miller:

Oh my-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Teenagers, it’s 7.22 hours.

Teri Miller:

A day?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

A day. I’m going to tell you that is a low estimate after the pandemic. Let’s see what 2020 and 2021 says. Now, what does the research say about technology usage? It actually is the quality of the technology, what they’re doing online is more directly tied to their mental health than the amount of time. So passive engagement, scrolling on Facebook, YouTubing is tied with greater anxiety and depression. And active social engagement is tied to some improved mental health.

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Now, with that … Right. Which is shocking. Now, my bigger issue is what are kids missing when their butts are sitting all day on technology? That is my bigger issue. So there’s less movement so you’re not getting lymphatic drainage. You’re not getting endorphins in the brain. You’re also training the brain to 2D processing. You’re not doing visual-spatial. I say all the time you have to power down to power up. You need some downtime. So they’re not used to downtime. Kids have a much lower threshold for boredom and creative play is going down. And creative play for younger children is where they learn to self regulate. So we’re now seeing a greater disregulation and more problems with attention with older kids. And there’s definitely a correlation. And then my biggest problem with technology is exactly what you said, Teri, is we’ve moved to less explicit bullying and more exclusionary bullying.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So these kids are doing threads, and they’re on SnapChat, and they drop somebody off. They do these things. And then parents, just like the snotty mother yesterday, seem to make excuses. Used to have community and accountability, if like a family, you would try to work things out with kids. You say your kids don’t have to love each other but you have to be respectful and get along. And we never excluded people. I don’t remember excluding anybody in my motley crew in my neighborhood in the ’80s. I don’t remember that in the ’70s and ’80s. You just played together.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And that’s just the way it was. You know what I mean?

Teri Miller:

Yeah. We were stuck with each other. We-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

That’s it.

Teri Miller:

… had to make it work.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You made it work. So it didn’t mean they were your best friends, but you were never rude to people.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You know what I mean? We did get in some fistfights, I’m not going to lie. But then you were friends. You worked it out.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You know what I mean?

Teri Miller:

Yeah, because you had to. You had to.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yes.

Teri Miller:

You couldn’t just drop them from your group, they were there.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

They were there.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

We didn’t have tons of play dates, and this, and that. It just wasn’t that. Your parents were like, “Get out with the kids in the neighborhood.” So these kids today, there’s not an acceptance for kids. And they exclude. And a lot of times when other parents confront other parents, the other parents say, “Well, he didn’t do anything.” This is what I hear all the time. And I hear this a lot with special needs kids. And 54.2% of kids in America, 10 year old research, have a physical or a mental health problem. So our kids are unique. And it’s the norm. [inaudible 00:23:26].

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You know?

Teri Miller:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So don’t think you’re any better, lady whose kid was rude to me yesterday.

Teri Miller:

Right. I love it.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Great.

Teri Miller:

Your next question, Amy, what’s the solution?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. And your question was what was the solution about schools before, right?

Teri Miller:

Yeah. And everything.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I have a-

Teri Miller:

Everything. Can you-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I have a vision

Teri Miller:

… solve it?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Well, I have lots of solutions. My whole thing is solutions for struggling kids. But these are just things that are helpful for everybody. When we look about what does research say? What does the brain say? I go to research all the time. I think most of the time you need common sense, people. But I go to research because I don’t want to hear, “Yeah, but is a pill going to fix it?” Because that’s what I do all day long.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And a pill does not teach skills. It doesn’t teach anything. And so we are always looking for a quick fix when often there’s some damn work that’s got to be done. And it’s got to to be consistent. And guess what? It fixes the problem, people. The consistency, it has to be there. And I think that’s a message that’s wrong. So whatever the issue is, we have to look at what does the science say about a solution? And we have to have some consistency. And we never want to say to parents, “You’re bad. You’re wrong.” But parents come to us every day and their wheels are spinning. You are working your tail off with zero outcome. So I want you to shift your effort and work smarter, not harder, and actually do what has to happen.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

For example, again, I work with a lot of tough cases, so I was talking to a family this week. And I had made a series of recommendations. And they chose to do one out of four of the big recommendations. So here we are doing X, Y, and Z with just narrow feedback. So my process is regulate the nervous system, come in with new learning. That’s what I do, that’s what works, okay, people? It works. And so they chose to try to regulate the nervous system and not do the learning. So what’s the outcome? No new learning. Right?

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So we’re not teaching. So I was like, “Her brain is going to repeat the same behaviors.” You know?

Teri Miller:

Right. Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Oh. So we have to look at what helps people and do that. My idea about school is really simple. And it doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s called being proactive instead of reactive. Our whole mental health system, our whole educational system is always working upstream. We know everybody’s going to be stressed. Why are we going to do the same damn thing?

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

It wasn’t working before.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

We need 15 to 20 minute period every day. We need to train the teachers. They need to do mindfulness activities, meditation, yoga, breath work. I don’t care what it is.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Do it, and do it every day. We’ve got to regulate people’s nervous systems. Kids are not going to able to pay attention, learn, or take appropriate action with a stressed hyperactive nervous system. This is science, people. So that same thing can be applied across every issue but we have to actually do this in schools. And therapy is great. Not saying it’s not great. We are not going to be able to provide that much therapy to every single kid that needs it. And I think we just have to say, “Okay.” Well, the first part of this is regulating the nervous system. And I think if we could just support the kids in that, we’d be great if we’d get families to do it. I think parents, and that’s so much of what I do, is just to educate people. “This is what we’re doing.” We’re like, “What’s the science? What does science tell us?” Well, I have never, ever seen more stress activated people. I have never seen more people hijacked and their responses, I came out of the DMV yesterday. And it was a pleasant experience because you have appointment. It’s awesome.

Teri Miller:

Better.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. I was like, “It was only 35 minutes. It was amazing.” And so they have these new licenses that they’re rolling out. And you have to give a lot of documentation. I don’t know if you’ve gotten a license in the last couple of years, but you basically, you got to bring a lot. Right?

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

It’s probably about five pieces of documentation to support that it’s you. It’s called a REAL ID and they’re rolling it out across. I’m like, “Do, do, do.” All excited, I’ve got 35 minutes, I budged two hours, there. I was like, “Oh my gosh. I got extra time.” And this guy comes up to me. And he’s super agitated. And he starts spouting off about the ID, and that he couldn’t get an ID, and they hadn’t documented it. Well, I didn’t want to tell him it was pretty clear that he had to bring his stuff. But he was just swearing, and this, and that, and I thought, “Okay, I get it. But I don’t know you.” And he felt that comfortable being that kind of off his … He was at the point where I could see that the guards were watching him. You know?

Teri Miller:

Yeah, gosh.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And I don’t think this is unusual. I think this is just what we’re seeing, and we’ve continued to see, and I’ve talked a lot about shootings on TV and the media, and why does this happen? I don’t have the exact answer, but I can tell you we have such a dramatic increase in mental health problems that are not appropriately identified. We know through research that NAMI says, in 2019, they say that … takes 11 years from the first signs of a mental health problem before the average person gets help. 11 years. This is America.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. And that’s a long time to suffer.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

It’s a long time to suffer. And it’s not just the kid, it’s their entire family.

Dr. Amy Moore:

It’s family. It’s-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And I-

Dr. Amy Moore:

… systemic.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

… think people are so out of hope. When people come me, we were joking, my book’s called It’s Gonna Be OK. And it’s on my mug. But it’s literally what I say to everybody, because everybody is so broken and they’re so out of hope. And if we just back things up and if we taught parents, “Well, guess what? Ten minutes a day of regulating the nervous system, brain training, doing these kinds of things absolutely changes the biological terrain and we have to do this, just like brushing your teeth.” We didn’t start brushing our teeth until the soldiers came back after World War II because they wanted good dental care, because they wanted their soldiers to be healthy, because of poor teeth can lead to everything, blood clots, this, that, and the other thing.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And then that, just through marketing, became part of what we do. So why can’t we do that about stress activation and getting people to regulate? And I think that is the key to what we have to change in mental health in America, and get out of this, “There’s going to be a pill to fix it.” Because that came through marketing, too.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sure, yes.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. Let’s get an amen!

Dr. Amy Moore:

Amen, sister.

Teri Miller:

Oh my goodness. Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So-

Dr. Amy Moore:

The pharmaceutical industry has hijacked the entire field.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

The entire field.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I’ve been doing this, talking about these kind of things for 30 years. And when I started, I’d be like, “I can tell you’re into natural. How about trying this herbal supplement?” They’d be like, “Oh my God.” And now it’s just so much open, that’s great. But my peers, I’ve gotten a lot of flack from peers, even though I’m 100% talking about research. This book has 40 pages of research citations, single spaced.

Teri Miller:

Absolutely.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So I don’t want to hear it. So we’re giving kids medications. 70% of the time, psychiatric medications are used off label. That means no research to substantiate their efficacy. And somehow, people feel better about that than adding more fat and protein in their diet.

Teri Miller:

It’s because the thought that it’s the easy fix. “I’m just going to give my kid a pill. I don’t have to make any effort. All I have to do is make sure they take a pill.” And the things that you’re talking about, the things that really work, they require effort. They require sacrifice.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

That’s- [crosstalk 00:32:54]

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I like to think of it, as I said, as a change in effort, because our parents with struggling kids are working hard, and they keep doing what is told to them. And I often find they get to me, they’re mad they haven’t been told this. And I’m like, “This is good. I’m glad you’re mad. Now, you tell five other friends about this because we have to stop.” We are giving away our power as parents. And we are telling parents, “No, you can’t do that, it’s not possible.” No, it is possible, 100% it’s possible to change, reduce, reverse behaviors. So we know what the brain is capable of to a point, but there’s so much that it’s capable of. How can people, through guided meditation, reduce cancer? We know that through research, it’s possible.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

They talk about it all the time.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So we’re just not tapping in and we’re not educating people properly. And for me, everything is about, again, we cannot think, we cannot process, we cannot pay attention or take action with a stress activated nervous system. It’s designed to go offline when you’re at maximum capacity. So let’s start there, because all the things that you can do with that, that you can do, are simple and free. There’s levels that go beyond that when, that you do things like neurofeedback and work with therapists to do, somatic experiencing and other things, but it all starts, really, with breath work, and imagery, and positive visualization, and that is free.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

We need to take a quick break. And Teri’s going to read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, I want to hear more about the different holistic options and then transition into hearing about your new book.

Teri Miller: (Reading sponsor ad from LearningRx)

Is your child struggling in more than one subject in school? Have you tried tutoring but still aren’t seeing the improvements you were hoping for? Most learning challenges aren’t caused by a lack of instruction. They’re typically caused by cognitive skills that just aren’t strong enough. Skills like auditory processing, memory, reasoning, attention, and processing speed. LearningRx one-on-one brain training programs are designed to target and strengthen the skills that we rely on for thinking and learning in every subject. LearningRx can help you identify which skills may be keeping your child from performing their best. In fact, they’ve worked with more than 100,000 children and adults who wanted to think and perform better. They’d like to help get your child on the path to a brighter and more confident future. Give LearningRx a call at 866-BRAIN01 or visit learningrx.com. That’s learningrx.com.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And we are back talking to Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge about children’s mental health and some holistic ways to address mental health. And so let’s dive right back into that.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. First of all, there’s just so many science-backed ways to support kids who are struggling with everything, like your typical things, attention, worry, regulating their mood, their behavior. These are the most common issues that are really surfacing for kids today. And parents don’t know that there are many options. And I talk a lot about this in my book, It’s Gonna Be OK. But what are things parents can do? Where can they start? And for me it all starts with regulating that nervous system, that breath work, meditation, yoga, if you’re worried about meditation and yoga because you have a religion who feels like that’s not okay, well, prayer is also a meditative process.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Can regulate your nervous system. And there’s so much evidence. Meditation, 10 minutes a day, for 40 straight days, through research, you can look at 40 Days of Zen, regulates, rewires the brain and helps to regulate the nervous system so people can be more attentive, more calm, process quicker, just in 40 days. And I think when people hear that, and they’re like, “10 minutes? I can do that.” “No, okay. You want to up it and do 30?” I’m sure you ladies are just like me. Seven days a week, I do multiple things every day to regulate my nervous system. I practice breath work.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Today, before I got up, I was like, “You’ve got to do some breath work before you even get up.” So I chose to do more breath work and less exercise today because I felt like I needed it. It’s Thursday, and by Thursday, I start getting worn out because I’m a cuckoo lady running around and doing a million things. All good things, but your body knows no difference between good and bad stress. And it’s still going to kick you in the butt, and it’s going to show up as sleep problems, or irritability, or weight gain, whatever it is, it’s going to show up. You can’t outwit it.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So that’s one thing. And then when you have clinical issues, there’s a whole world out there of clinical tools that support not just regulating the nervous system, but that new learning. So I do neurofeedback and biofeedback in PEMF, but we also do very specific types of psychotherapy. So when it comes to teaching, talk therapy is one type of thing. But it doesn’t work for a lot of people because they’re so stress activated and we over focus on emotions in therapy when the bulk of people who have struggles are really stuck in a thought process or sensations. Right?

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So I spend work doing a bottoms up approach versus a top down, not that feelings aren’t important, but to me I always say they’re the candles on the cake. You do that last. If you keep trying to focus on feelings when a person can’t even connect to the sensations they’re having, it’s not going to stick. So that means we have very specific types of therapy that can be really, really helpful. And this is mind blowing to people when they don’t understand how effective psychotherapy is because they’ve tried talk therapist, talk therapist, talk therapist. And this can be for adults as much as kids, people. It is as much adults as it is kids. And I actually find kids are easier to work with, even though I would with adults, I’m going to tell you 100 times I prefer to work with kids and down because they’re so open to learning. They don’t tell me they can’t do it. It’s the parents that tell me they can’t do it.

Teri Miller:

Wow.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Right?

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So there’s so many solutions and I’m a big fun of supplements. I love taking a functional approach, looking at nutrients that kids are missing.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Let me interrupt you for two seconds-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. Sure.

Dr. Amy Moore:

… Roseann. As parents are searching for the most effective therapies, are you referring to cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy? Are those the ones the parents should be looking for?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I go even further than that.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Specific conditions require certain things. So DBT dialectical behavioral therapy is known to support kids with mood regulation issues and personality disorders. Trauma has very specific types of therapy. So if you’ve had repeated traumas or a more immediate trauma, and we’re broadening the idea of what trauma is, it could be medical trauma, it doesn’t have to be physical, sexual abuse, or neglect. So your kids could be traumatized from the pandemic. And then I do a lot of work with people with OCD. There’s a very specific type of therapy called ERP for OCD exposure, response, and prevention. It’s the number one most effective therapy type of psychotherapy. But yet we constantly do anxiety therapy for OCD. And all it does is actually increase the neurological habituation. When we treat it like that, it makes it worse. It makes it actually stay there longer.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And so CBT, I like. I don’t think it’s where you start with kids. To me, you start at somatic. You start with teaching them to connect to the body. Some art therapists, some play therapists do that naturally. There has to be an explicit instruction of teaching them, “This is the sensation, this is what it’s about.” And we are such a disconnected society. When I think about Teri asking me about technology and what’s happening, it’s teaching kids to even further disconnect to what their body is telling us. And our body is, every kid, every adult, it’s our first cue. When you think about anxiety, you think about how your body feels, first.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You then go to the thought and then you go to the feeling, right?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Your heart’s racing, you’re sweating.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

“I’ve got a stomach ache.” I get so many kids with what are signs of anxiety, gastrointestinal, sleep problems, headaches, pain. This is how kids definitely show their worries. And our highest functioning kids, people use grades as a benchmark for mental health. They think, “If my kid is a straight A student, they can’t be suicidal. They can’t be depressed. They can’t be anxious.” And I think the pandemic shined a light on that that’s not true.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

But every type, talk therapy, I’m not saying throw it out. But we can’t approach kids who are activated, or adults, with talk therapy. All it does is further serve to activate the nervous system.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You do that work when they’re regulating. You do the cognitive behavioral, which is amazing. Because most people, even kids, they get so caught up in these negative thought loops. And cognitive behavioral is an amazing tool to get them to confront their thoughts and then change their behaviors, right?

Teri Miller:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And that’s with a good cognitive behaviorist. And please know that not all therapists are good or appropriately trained for every condition. And therapists don’t like me to say that. But I was in college professor training therapist, and I said, “I can’t do this because you’ve got to work on your stuff, therapist, before you start helping other people.” But that’s a whole other thing.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You have to really get a good match, not just rapport, but with skills. Right?

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Why do people come in? And so I work with people virtually and in person. And I do neurofeedback virtually. I just mail them the equipment. Why do people, right now, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, why do they come to me instead of finding somebody locally? Well, because it’s an art and a science.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And so you are paying for all of the skills that I have. There’s a lot of skills, there. Somebody would have to spend weeks, what I can probably do in a minute. No offense, but that’s just what happens when you’ve been doing something a long time. You’re really good at it and this is why people want to [inaudible 00:45:20]. You want to be careful. I’m not saying you never work with a new therapist. I totally disagree with that. You just have to make sure that person has the skill, and the expertise, and the training in that particular niche area. Don’t take your kid with anxiety disorder to a depression specialist.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

It’s not going to help you, people. It’s a different methodology.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Good. And I think most therapists advertise their specialties, and so it’s super important to look at that, and interview them, and make sure that it’s a good match.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Absolutely. And don’t go to a generalist. If you’re going to a generalist, they’re not going to have the niche experience to help support you, they’re not. Not unless it’s a general, basic issue, your kid needs somebody just to talk to. I don’t see those kind of kids. The kids I’m working with have layers. They have gastrointestinal problems. They have learning problems. They have anxiety. This is now the norm in mental health. I think most issues are not one thing. If I just have just a happy little kid with ADHD, I’m like, “This is a miracle. He’s just got ADHD.”

Dr. Amy Moore:

It’s so easy.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I got that. Don’t worry about that. So even young kids, by the time they get to me, they have self esteem issues as a result of that, there’s friction at home. It’s the layers. It’s a lot of peeling back. And they’re all addressable. I don’t look at anything as something that can’t be improved.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sure.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I- [crosstalk 00:46:56]

Dr. Amy Moore:

I interrupted you and I apologize. I do want you to return to your conversation about supplements, because I’m a fan as well.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

It’s funny, I have some great blogs on supplements. And I dive a lot into it in my book. It’s probably one of the most asked questions that people ask me about, “Is there a supplement for this? Is there a supplement for that?” Yeah, there’s a lot of research to show there’s very specific supplements that improve niched areas. How do I improve impulse control? I just wrote a series of blogs on essential oils that was very specific to issues because again, there is a whole world out there and people don’t realize how powerful these things can be. So if you have a child that’s struggling with anxiety, or OCD, or any issue, or you just want to improve how their brain processes, you want to help them get to that next level, then there is a lot of information that has great usages for all of those things.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And those blogs would be on which one of your websites?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Oh, drroseann.com. They’re all in my book, It’s Gonna Be OK, too, but there’s good information out there on the internet, too. You know? So-

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sure. Well, tell us about your book.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah. My book It’s Gonna Be OK. is really my life’s work and it really lays out the step-by-step way to have solutions for kids that are struggling. It doesn’t matter if your kid has PANS, PANDAS, OCD, whatever it is. There is a platform to support the brain and body on how to improve or even reverse these clinical issues. And there’s a lot of things you can do which can feel very overwhelming to people, but I break it down where it’s like, “You’re just going to start here. And you’re going to do this thing.” And then some people are like me, I like to jump in the water. And I’m like, “I’m going to do 10 at once.” And that’s okay, too. And you can use it that way. But I think what people just need to realize more than anything is that little waves create big waves. And so we’ve got to just start somewhere. Stop, get off the worry train, and pick one thing that’s got science behind it and do it for at least 30 days.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And I like to chart it. I like to do a SUDs, like, “On a zero to five, where’s your stress level? Where’s this whatever?” And chart it on a calendar for 30 days so that you have some objective data. Whenever I work with people, I’m a huge data collector. And if somebody say, “Well, there has been change.” I’m like, “50% improvement in how your kid gets along with his sister. And that was a top three concern.” “Oh, I didn’t realize that.” You know?

Teri Miller:

Good.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So I think that’s really important. This book is really my give back, not everybody can afford to work with me, even though I can work with people virtually. I have a whole team in place to help people. It’s really like, “Please, do these things. Share this information.” And really, these things are proven to not just change the biological terrain but I use them to change the trajectory of the lives of the kids that I work with.

Teri Miller:

Wow. Where can we get our hands on it?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

You can get it on Amazon or you can go to itsgonnabeokay.com and then I have several free gifts that you get when you show that you ordered it.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

We’ll actually have a link to it in the Brainy Books tab of our website as well when this posts. And I will give you a glowing endorsement. I don’t know if the people on YouTube can see, but your other book that you wrote for therapists is actually on my bookshelf, The Teletherapy Toolkit.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

That’s right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And I use it.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Oh, good. That’s for therapists of all kinds including speech and language. And it’s really just a simple handbook, resource guide that you can use because I have a team of therapists, and we’ve been doing teletherapy for a long time. And this came in. And therapists were like, “Holy Cow. [crosstalk 00:51:22] How do I do teletherapy?

Dr. Amy Moore:

The pandemic, yes.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And so I actually wrote that book after the other book, the It’s Gonna Be OK. And I wrote it in 31 days.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Wow.

Teri Miller:

Just to get it, I’m sure, because that, it was needed, to get that information.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

I was like this, like, “Sh.” And I had four interns, and they would format and put the graphics in.

Teri Miller:

That’s great.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yep.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

So-

Teri Miller:

So needed.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

We did it, and we got it, and I feel great about it. And therapists, I loved having books like that. I have tons of books that are resources.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I’m so glad you have it. Oh, yeah. I have a couple teenage clients. And I’ve used several of the activities. And- [crosstalk 00:52:02]

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Awesome. Thank you.

Dr. Amy Moore:

… just love it.

Teri Miller:

That’s right.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah, because I only do teletherapy.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

See? And we all need tools in our toolkit, whatever it is, right?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah, absolutely.

Teri Miller:

Hey, before we close, I just want to say for our listeners, and I’ve been taking just copious notes, because I want to learn how to apply all these things to my family and to help my kids. I have a houseful and so there’s a lot of different perspective in different age groups. And my kids suffer in different ways, just like kids are right now. And so if you’re listening to this and feel like your head is spinning, “What do I do?”

Teri Miller:

I’m going to tell you that the thing, the takeaway I wrote down, the number one thing I wrote down that I’m going to do different, I’m going to start doing in my home, is I’m going to try to do that 10 to 15 minutes every single day of meditation. And I’m not sure right now what that’s going to look like, if that’s going to be in the morning, maybe it’s going to be right before dinner. I’m not sure, because my kids have different schedules. But that is something I’m really inspired with. And so I want to challenge you listeners to just give that a try, 40 days, just try with your kids, with your family, let’s do that one thing and see if we can help regulate the nervous system and see what will follow.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that. I love that-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Good stuff-

Dr. Amy Moore:

… challenge-

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

… is going to fall out.

Dr. Amy Moore:

… to our listeners.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And really, even to simplify it more than that, they can do a four, seven, eight breath. So in for four, hold for seven, out for eight.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And if you do that three times in a row, you’re going to regulate your nervous system. You want to do that at least three times a day. And you can stretch that out to a 10 minute process. So that’s-

Teri Miller:

In for four.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

In for four, hold for seven, out for eight.

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

If your kids are too young, I have breath strategies. I have a YouTube channel. On my YouTube channel I have some breaths. But you can just, any type of belly breathing which is diaphragmatic breathing. So young kids, you can do blowing bubbles, whatever it is. It can be a box breath in and out, in and out. The quickest way to regulate your nervous system is to have that exhalation be a little longer. So even if it’s in for four, out for five, and you just start training, I started teaching my kids breath work when they were one. And I watch them sometimes before they enter a situation stop and breathe. And that’s like, “I did a good job.”

Dr. Amy Moore:

Excellent.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

Very easy, if your breath is disregulated, if you’re breathing out of your chest mamas and papas, your autonomic nervous system, your stress response system is not working correctly. You need to breathe out of your belly. So we got to fill it up like a balloon and then out through our mouths. So in through our nose, out through our mouths. And it just helps you get back on track. Is this, regulating our nervous system is just like getting your wheels aligned on your car. So that, nobody cannot do breaths. Right?

Teri Miller:

Right.

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

And so we’re breathing anyway, let’s just make it be the right kind of breaths to support our stress levels, our focus, all the challenges that we have. So important.

Teri Miller:

Awesome.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So if there’s one last thing that you want to leave our listeners with, what would that be?

Dr. Roseann Capanna-Hodge:

It’s really that. Just focus on breaths, don’t neglect the time that you need for some power down time. And really, the ROI, that return on investment of as little as 10 minutes a day is pretty massive. And you just got to do it for at least 30 days. Don’t do it once or twice and then bag out. Make a commitment, make your family do it with you. We only have full control, sort of full control of our kids until they’re 18. So let’s teach them this, because again, just like I watched my kid do this before something stressful, I felt so proud that he was using a resource kit. I didn’t have to cue him, nothing. And it took time. It takes time for them to develop any new habit.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Excellent. We are out of time and need to wrap up. But I just want to thank you for joining us today, Dr. Roseann. And you’ve just been a wealth of tips and information. And we could talk for another hour or two with you. So maybe we’ll have to have you back, and we can dive into some other topics with you. If you would like to connect with Dr. Roseann, you can learn more about her and her work at drroseann.com or childrensmentalhealth.com. And we’ll also put her social media handles and links to buy her book, It’s Gonna Be OK in the Brainy Books tab of our website and in our show notes. So thank you so much for listening today. If you like our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five star rating or review on Apple Podcasts. If you would rather watch us, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel. And please follow us on social media @thebrainymoms, @dr_amymoore, and @terissamiller. Look, until next time, we know you’re busy moms and we’re busy moms. So we are out.

Teri Miller:

See ya!

SHOW NOTES:
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It’s Gonna Be OK! through our Amazon affiliate link.