Speaker 1: Well good afternoon. A very happy, gorgeous Saturday to you. If you are making your way or you are at the Florida-Georgia game, I am envious, down in St. Augustine. We’re getting tweets @WOKVNews right now on Twitter. People sharing gorgeous pictures of the weather out there. But we aren’t here to talk about the weather.
This show is Ask The Doctor, brought to you by St. Vincent’s Healthcare, and our guest today is Dr. Williams and she is on to discuss bullying, mental health awareness, and everything that encompasses that.
So Dr. Williams, welcome back.
Dr. Williams: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Speaker 1: I do think that this is a record for the soonest a guest has returned on the show. So it’s nice to have you back.
The phone lines are open, 904-340-1045. 904-340-1045.
So it is Bullying Prevention Month and we’re here to talk about that.
I was discussing with a colleague of mine before coming on the show. We were talking about bullying, and we were talking about when we were kids it was hard, but what’s wrong with kids now?
I was talking about social media and so I was online and I was reading a story about a young woman who committed suicide a number of years ago. This was back when Myspace was a thing. She had met a boy on Myspace and they had an online relationship where they were really nice to each other for a little over a month, and then the boy broke up with her and started saying these really mean, nasty things to her. Lo and behold, after the young lady committed suicide, her mother found out that that was actually a fictitious account. It was a fake account and it was set up by the mother of somebody who lived down the street. It wasn’t even a real person. Right?
The whole reason I’m bringing this up is, is that is something just completely different that you or I had to deal with on any level when we were growing up.
Dr. Williams: That’s right. I was having this discussion at lunch last week with some colleagues of mine as well, so it’s very topical. And the difference is, now, that kids can’t escape the criticism and the bullying. Like, when we went to school, we would go to school, maybe something would happen in the schoolyard or in the class or something like that. We’d go home and we’d have our families around us and be with our friends.
But kids nowadays are constantly exposed to social media, and their friends have immediate access to them and they don’t turn it off. They can’t turn it off. They’re afraid they’re gonna miss something. And if you have a bully who wants to tear you down, they can do it and not really feel the consequences seeing what pain they’re inflicting on you? What’s happening to you? They can just do it without being accountable.
So it’s the constancy of it, I think, the intensity of people feeling like they can get away with it because they’re not face-to-face with somebody, and it’s just a different quality and quantity of bullying.
Speaker 1: And so that was something my colleague and I were talking about earlier too, was the concept of Monday morning quarterbacking. In essence, talking about how the things that we say to each other online, even as adults, let alone kids in middle school who … Middle school is a rough time for everybody involved in that, right? But even now, as adults, if you’re online and you’re talking about politics, let’s say, and you get into a discourse with somebody over Facebook. The things that are said in that realm, as opposed to, if you’re walking down the street, walking your dog and you run into a neighbor, likely face-to-face you’re gonna be super civil to one another, talking about the same thing.
So what can we, as grandparents, as parents, do for our children to help them through that?
Dr. Williams: I think that one of the most important things to do is prep your kids. Like, prepare them for what they might encounter, before … when they’re young enough … They might not even have a Facebook account, and let them know the kinds of things that are happening online, and maybe show them a few things before they ever get fully exposed with their own access. And let them know that this is not okay, try and build a platform with your kids and your grandkids of kindness and integrity, saying what you mean, not regretting what you’re gonna say. That’s what integrity is.
Kindness, integrity, compassion, all those things that are so often derided by people online these days. It’s seen being kind and compassionate and having integrity is somehow reframed a lot of times as being weak. And it’s really not weak. It’s so much easier to just be a jerk online than to reign yourself in and to say something neutral or say something that’s … decompresses the situation.
You know, if you’re going to say something nice or kind or something that decompresses the situation, it requires you to step back and think about what you’re gonna do. That’s not weakness, that’s strength. So, preparing your kids for what they might see, and making sure that they’re not contributing to that culture are the first steps.
Speaker 1: The phone lines are open. Dr. Williams is our guest today. 904-340-1045. 904-340-1045.
Ask The Doctor, brought to you by St. Vincent’s Healthcare.
Today, we’re talking about bullying.
Depression Screening Day that happened at the beginning of October. The National Depression Screening Day began as an effort to reach individuals across the nation with a foreign health education and connect them with support services. Obviously, we missed the National Health and Screening Day, however, that doesn’t take away from the importance of screening.
Dr. Williams: This is happening in healthcare systems across the country. They’re trying to get in at the level of the primary care physicians, and having them being more aware of the different surveys they can use to screen for depression.
We’ve gotten past the point where doctors say, “Well, if I screen for it and I find it, then what do I do? I don’t know what to do if someone’s really depressed in my office.” And using that as an excuse for not doing the screening. We’ve moved past that, and now we’re into the, “Okay. I know what to do. It’s embedded in my electronic medical record. It’s available to me and I need, if I find someone who has moderate to severe depression based on the screening, what am I going to do? I’m gonna refer for psychological or mental health services.”
So we’ve moved the ball forward. We’re beyond the stigma of, “I don’t even wanna ask,” but we’re at the point now where we’re doing these depression screenings more often, and it’s hard for people who get identified to actually find services. People are booked out for months. You know, psychiatrists and psychologists are booked out for months.
So we have to address the accessibility issue now.
Speaker 1: When it comes to accessibility and whether or not you can see a psychiatrist, you can see somebody that can help you and talk with you through these kinds of things while we’re waiting for it, or waiting to see somebody, is there anything that we can do ourselves that can contribute to our level of happiness. It seems like a lot of life is perception. Your perception of your day is really how good your days is. You are as happy as your thoughts are. Can we control any of that?
Dr. Williams: Such a good point. There are so many things that people can do themselves, not only to kind of address the depression, but also prevent a bad mood swing downward, and I mean it’s such a simple thing to say. I don’t mean to pretend that depression isn’t serious. It can be very serious, of course.
But if you have a mild to moderate depression? You can do something as simple as exercise regularly, and that will elevate your mood. That has been shown time and again in the research literature, to have a strong effect on stabilizing moods. So exercise. Even if it’s just like take a walk outside. Take a walk for a mile. I don’t mean like do extreme sports. I mean just do something regular. Go for a bike ride, go for a walk. So that’s one thing that people can do.
Another thing that people who are depressed tend to isolate and withdraw, ’cause they just don’t have the energy to deal with other people, having people around. But, in fact, going towards people is something that helps as well.
So going towards your friends, going towards your family members who are supportive, seeking out their company, talking about what you’re going through, can kind of take the edge off of you feeling like you’re in this place where nobody understands you or you feel isolated.
So taking some regular exercise, making sure that you’re connecting with people who care about you. Those are two really easy things for people to do on their own, until they can get some professional help.
Speaker 1: Some of that’s easier to do as someone that’s naturally extroverted. You know?
Dr. Williams: Yes.
Speaker 1: It tends to be difficult for introverts going to public situations, especially if they aren’t necessarily familiar with the people in that surrounding. It might be hard for them to start a conversation, that kind of thing. I get it. I understand that.
Is there a value in, let’s say, going out of the house and if you live in Riverside, going over to Bold Bean Coffee or wherever it might be, and sitting there having a cup of coffee in public, even if you aren’t talking to somebody, going to the bookstore, but even just putting on your headphones and looking through books, whatever the case might be.
Is there value in that that can increase or brighten the mood?
Dr. Williams: I think there’s value in that. Just being around other people. If you are staying at home day after day after day and the only …