Dr. Ryan Seidman is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of children, adolescents, parents, and their families. We interviewed her to gather more insight into the world of adolescent anxiety and how we can make a difference.
Fusion Team: What was it that got you to specialize in working with social and emotional concerns, developmental disabilities, employment and school-related difficulties, and behavioral challenges?
Dr. Seidman: I grew up with a sibling diagnosed with ASD. Watching the impact that early intervention and support had on his development and my family’s overall well being led me into this field. My hope is to provide support to children and their families going through difficult times.
“It’s not easy to be a sibling when one struggles with mental health and this affects the entire the family, not just the one who is struggling with the mental illness”
Fusion: Why do you think it’s so hard for most teens to talk about anxiety and mental illness?
Dr. Seidman: People are afraid to be identified because of the possibility of being deemed dangerous or stigmatized by their peers. You have to work on ways to manage your anxiety, your emotional control, and learn how to advocate for yourself in an environment that isn’t always supportive of the individual child, which is tough.
There’s no one-size-fits-all tool, so teens don’t often see a viable solution for them. You have to individualize support to each child and provide them with individualized treatment. We can’t make generalized statements about these students, we have to get to know our kids and know our families to best help them.
“We have to give the client tools and give the family tools-supporting the entire family is necessary”
Fusion: What do you recommend families and adolescents do in order to best manage our daily stress and anxiety in a positive way?
Dr. Seidman: Just talk to them and open up the space to have those conversations.
Ideas for that include:
• no cell phone time to just connect
• family time scheduled at a certain time of the week
• giving them time throughout the week, month to have those conversations
Outlets need to be customized to the child and find that space that works for that kid-meet them where they are.
I find ways to connect with my clients and meet them where they are at. I even watch Monday night RAW to better connect with my kids. I’m willing to do anything to make them feel supported. I want to know what they are passionate about for them to know I’m interested in what they find interesting. It’s only then that they feel safe to connect further.
Fusion: How do you think schools could change or better support students in their communities who are experiencing anxiety and mental health challenges?
Dr. Seidman: Teachers need more outreach and more connection with professionals in their communities. We need to have a more open door policy to be able to come into the schools to host student groups, parent education nights and teacher professional development classes.
We need to arm our teachers with resources, knowledge, and space to hold these forums and encourage open communication between teachers, therapists, and families. This will create the change we need.
Fusion: How you think documentaries like Angst help move us forward in better supporting others with anxiety/mental health issues?
Dr. Seidman: This awareness is extremely helpful in getting all of us in the same room together. This brings more awareness and increases communication around this issue. We are focused on the whole child, so we need all these different parts together.