Christopher Fasano, Ph.D.
The Better Mental Health Show focuses on the current topics in mental health with a particular focus on how our brain is affected and strategies to overcome. Dr. Fasano uses language all ages can understand and always finds a lesson for the younger audience and their parents to increase awareness at the family level.
The unknown is the root of many, if not all anxieties. Sometimes, the anxiety is not actually caused by the fear of bad happening, but rather, whether or not that bad will in fact happen at all. There are numerous scientific experiments that actually prover this theory correct. So what can we do about this fear of uncertainty and how can we teach our kids to not go down that rabbit hole? cWe discuss on Episode 96.
17 min 22 sec
Facebook recently announced its name change to Meta, aligning with its focus on building a virtual reality internet. What does this mean? A place for people to escape the real world by entering a fake world where they can have coffee with friends, visit a cafe in Rome, or check out the ancient pyramids in Egypt. Sounds great right? The only problem is you aren't actually visiting with friends or a foreign land, you're at home sitting on your couch. What does this mean for our own and our kids mental health? We discuss on Episode 95.
18 min 7 sec
Sleep. We all know a good nights rest matters, but how many of us actually get one. It's a vicious cycle. People with poor sleep habits are more prone to mental health issues and people with mental health issues are less likely to get good sleep. So what can we do about this and what does the data say? Let's talk about it. This podcast featured information from the following articles. https://www.aap.org/en/advocacy/child-and-adolescent-healthy-mental-development/aap-aacap-cha-declaration-of-a-national-emergency-in-child-and-adolescent-mental-health/ https://www.inverse.com/mind-body/sleep-mental-health-study
18 min 49 sec
Touch is so powerful, more so than we think.. Evolutionarily, it is the most important way that mammals communicate safety to one another and as such, a touch has been shown to lower stress, alter heart rates, reduce anxiety, and promote calm. So what does the mean for our mental health and how can we us it to our advantage? We discuss on today's show. This episode references the following article: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/how-touching-your-partner-can-make-both-of-you-healthier#Touch-and-comfort-are-innate
17 min 20 sec
Being afraid of something can lead to strong feelings of anxiety, even when that trigger is not present. Some of these fears go well beyond extreme anxiety and can be categorized and diagnosed as a phobia. Not all fears are classified as phobias and on Episode 92, we discuss what a phobia is, how it is different than general anxiety, and some strategies to utilize if you do have a diagnosable phobia. This episode references the following article: Article 1 Article 2
25 min 54 sec
Instagram and Facebook have been associated with mental health issues amongst young people for quite some time, but the company has always downplayed it. This past week, evidence has emerged that Facebook conducted its own research and learned that in fact Instagram is harming the mental health of young girls in particular at high rates, and has done nothing about it. What does the evidence show and what does it mean? We discuss on Episode 91. This episode references the following article: Article on Instagram Discussed Wall Street Journal Article
18 min 50 sec
Listening is not hearing. When we actively listen we are consciously receiving information and processing what it means. Through this process, the person sending the message feels comforted in knowing the person on the other end is thoughtfully engaged in what they have to say. This makes them feel relieved, safe, and help build confidence. Being an active listener goes beyond the benefits for the one telling the message as active listeners themselves are often less judgemental and less likely to create more stressful situations . Communication is the key to living a mentally strong life and not just saying what's on our mind. It's listening to people actively when they talk to you about those same things on their mind. Do you listen? Or just hear. On Episode 90 we discuss tips to become better active listeners. This episode references the following article: https://positivepsychology.com/active-listening/
Another school year in a pandemic, more mask mandates, and more angry parents screaming about the harm masks are causing their children. But what about that harm, is it real or made up? Do masks harm kids, in particular, do they affect their mental health now or down the road? I hear a lot of people talking about how COVID has affected kids mental health, and while this is very true, no evidence suggests it comes from the masks. In fact, masks are the way kids can be more mentally healthy by allowing them to go to school and interact with their peers safely. So what does the science say about masks and mental health of kids? We talk about it on Episode 89, Masks and Mental Health. This episode cited the following articles: Article 1 Article 2
17 min 6 sec
Image courtesy of Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images By now most of us have heard about gymnast and Olympian Simone BIles withdrawal from Olympic competition citing mental health problems. And along those lines, I bet a lot of you heard some of the negative comments and criticism thrown her way calling her weak, immature, and a shame to our country. Over the past 5 years we have seen more and more celebrities come out and admit to their mental health suffering, and that has mattered to the conversation. But Simone Biles, the most decorated athlete and olympian of all time, pulling out of the Olympics because she just couldn't mentally do it is the most significant event in the mental health movement this far. And on today's episode, we talk about why. Image courtesy of Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
17 min 11 sec
Accepting criticism is not easy for most humans but I argue it is one of the best ways we can grow. Often times we get defensive and act out of emotion in response to criticism rendering that critique useless and the opportunity squandered. On today's episode we discuss ways to better open yourself up to critique, offer critiques as a parent, and why it matters to your mental health. Articles discussed on this episode can be found here: https://psychcentral.com/blog/imperfect/2016/05/7-tips-for-dealing-with-criticism-when-youre-a-highly-sensitive-person#Ask-questions
21 min 52 sec
Being bored is viewed as a negative state, something we are constantly trying to escape. Feeling bored? Take your phone out and scroll, problem solved. Waiting on a line at the store? Boring. Take your phone out and scroll. While this may be temporarily satisfying, avoiding the ability to be bored and idle is doing long term damage to our brains by wiring them to constantly expect action and stimulation all of the time. Then, when the time comes for us to actually focused, our brains are no longer wired for that ability. How do we fix this? We learn and teach our kids to practice boredom, and on today's episode we talk about how. Articles discussed on this episode can be found here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/science-choice/202004/5-benefits-boredom Article 2
17 min 28 sec
As the pandemic is winding down, the mental health pandemic has already begun. In particular, anxiety rates have gone way up amongst all ages, and rightfully so. For the past year and half we have been isolate, scared, and unknowing of when and how things will change. All of these things are the perfect ingredients for high levels of anxiety. So how can we handle this as we emerge from the pandemic and keep our anxiety at bay? WE discuss on today's episode. Data reported in this episode comes from the CDC and found here: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.htm
21 min 25 sec
Having high expectations can cause stress and anxiety. The idea of tying some sort of pleasure or reward to something that may or may not happen is really just a disaster waiting to happen. But we humans do this all the time. It isn't wrong to set expectations for oneself, but it wrong to set too many, and in particular expectations that are just not realistic. So what can we do to lower expectations which in turn will make us focus more on what is happening now? We discuss on today's episode of the Better Mental Health Show. The following articles were used as a reference for this episode: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-neurochemical-self/201608/stop-anxiety-adjusting-expectations https://medium.com/personal-growth/the-secret-to-life-is-low-expectations-8f1a19377129 https://www.supportiv.com/tools/lower-your-expectations-avoid-disappointment
21 min 5 sec
Another important lesson learned during the COVID pandemic was that smiling matters. As the world became masked, we quickly recognized how different societies are when we can't see someone's facial expressions, in particular a smile. Studies have shown that smiling can not only boost your emotional health, but also the person that you are smiling at. Why is this and what have we learned? We discuss on Episode 83. Information from the following articles was used on this episode: Article 1 Article 2
18 min 59 sec
We care way too much about what others think. This is not an opinion, this is a fact. And in the age of social media, where everything is instantly shared and compared, it is almost impossible to escape. But caring too much about what others think can have grave consequences for out self-esteem and mental health. So why is it that we care so much about what others think and what are some ways we can stop? Join me as we discuss on episode 82, "What Others Think" Information from the following articles was used on this episode: Article 1 Article 2
24 min 59 sec
Empathy is the ability to 'feel with' another person, to identity with them, and sense what they're experiencing. Anxiety is a feeling of uncertainty or fear caused by not being able to control or know what will or might happen. The more anxious we are, the more individualistic we become, and when that happens, the only thing we care about is ourself. Empathy is the exact opposite. It is wanting to be connected with others and share our common experience. Thus, the more anxious we are, the less empathetic we can be, and vice versa. The more empathetic we can become, the less anxious we will be. Today we talk about this concept and go though some actionable ways for us to be come more empathetic. Information from the following articles was used on this episode: Empathy: The Ability That Makes us Human Feeling Anxious? Being Kind Can Change That 5 Actionable Tips to Develop Empathy & Become a More Empathetic Person
31 min 14 sec
April is designated as Month of the Military Child, a time to honor the sacrifices made by military families worldwide, with an emphasis on the experience of children in those families. This life of uncertainty can lead to a variety of mental health problems when kids are young and as they get older. But, research also shows that military kids are amongst the most resilient humans on the planet. On today's episode I talk about the unique situation and sacrifice military families/kids endure, offer my take on establishing a constant in the unknown, and my thanks for their sacrifice. Read more: https://www.dodea.edu/dodeaCelebrates/Military-Child-Month.cfm
20 min 26 sec
Guard rails are a means to prevent or deter access to dangerous or off-limits areas. The most common of these are the guard rails we see on the high ways to prevent us from veering off the road and limiting damage during an accident. Our mental health is a progress, a road if you will, and without guard rails we run the risk of driving off the mental health road. So how do we establish some mental guard rails? What are some easy things we can do to be preventative about our mental health and deter access to some dangerous or off limit areas? We discuss on Episode 79.
17 min 21 sec
It seems like whenever a mass shooting occurs, mental health or illness makes its way into the conversation. Why? Because mental illness is always tied to the cause and reason someone picks up a gun and goes into a store and kills people. But is that true? And better yet is it fair to further stigmatize mental illness and tie it to violence with no evidence just to avoid the inevitable conversation about guns? On this podcast I do my best to never push an agenda other than promoting mental health and I find it very dangerous to link gun violence with mental illness without any evidence to support it. So what does the data say about mental illness and violence? Are the mentally ill more likely to pick up a gun and kill someone else? We discuss on today's episode. On today's episode i reference the following articles. https://www.theweek.co.uk/102642/gun-violence-why-does-the-us-have-so-many-mass-shootings https://time.com/5645747/gun-violence-mental-illness/
18 min 48 sec
Critical thought is what defines as a human. Our ability to use rationale thought allows us to take the emotion out of our decisions to ensure the choices we make will be the right ones for not only the present moment but also the future. Critical thought nowadays, however, has become harder and harder with saturation of social media, and curated news feeds that only show us things we like, and get us to hate the things we don't. All of that uses emotion as the driving factor and really clouds our critical thinking process. So how can we become better critical thinkers and more importantly, how can we teach our kids this? Join us as we discuss this on another episode of the Better Mental Health show. The following article was used in th
27 min 5 sec
A major source of anxiety for many people, kids and adults included, is the constant worrying about all of the bad stuff that surrounds us. Bad stuff in our environment, bad stuff in our food, bad stuff in our homes, everywhere we go we can find bad stuff to make us anxious. If only there was a place we could go to get more information about this bad stuff and learn about alternatives to make everyday things less "bad" and more "good". Well, my guest on today's episode, Maia James, has created such a place called Gimme The Good Stuff, and she joins me to discuss how these bad things can harm us and create anxiety and how the business she built aims to combat this.
37 min 31 sec
It is known that negative experiences during childhood can have a poor outcome on our mental health as we get older. But what about those that have a positive, supportive childhood upbringing? Does this eliminate or reduce mental health problems later? And if not, do these different environments predict what type of mental health problems we will have? A recent study from Australia aimed to address these exact questions and today we discuss the results, implications, and what this means for how we raise our children and our own mental health. We used these articles in our discussion: Article 1 Article 2
14 min 36 sec
Weighted Blankets have been suggested to help soothe anxiety and reduce insomnia. The theory behind weighted blankets is rooted in neuroscience and the concept of "pressure therapy". When our bodies feel pressure, our parasympathetic nervous system increases activity which in turn, lowers our hear rates, and increasing our feeling of calm. There has been limited studies performed directly assessing the efficacy, but the majority do report a benefit in terms of reducing anxiety and helping with sleep. I have been using one myslef for about a year now and the benefit has been enormous. We used these articles in our discussion: Article 1 Article 2
13 min 18 sec
Through this historically difficult time, one shining light that has emerged is the expansion of mental health therapies made possible through innovated technology and the use of smart phones and tablets. It is no longer necessary that we find a local therapist we can physically go see to talk through our struggles, the rise of digital mental health companies, rooted in real scientific research, have changed the game in terms of how we can receive mental and behavioral health care. Today we speak with Dr. Derek Richards, the Chief Scientific Officer of Silver Cloud Health about this very topic.
33 min 41 sec
It is not easy to begin our mental health journey and sometimes the concept of getting help can seem daunting and scary. The landscape of mental health and behavioral therapy has changed so much in the past 4 years, and with increased resources and digital technologies, starting that journey has never been more attainable. The only way for us to begin this journey, however, is to take the first step. On this episode, the first of 2021, we talk about how we can take this first step and embark on a journey that will change our life.
10 min 56 sec
2020 has been a nightmare, or a perpetual hail storm as I have said before. But with any hard time, we have to take it in and make sure we learn from it, so next time, we might be better prepared. While the hard times are still not over, there are some things I have learned is this terrible storm, and this episode I discuss what they are, and how I will use them to better help in the future.
COVID spread is the highest it has been since the pandemic began, and kids are still in school. Should they be? Is it safe for kids to be in school? This question is being asked by kids, parents, and teachers all over the country and as a significant contributor high levels of anxiety. The anxiety stems from the lack of clarity around whether or not schools are a major source of COVID spread and transmission. On today's episode we try to provide some answers and clarity to these questions by looking at the data from states reporting infection rates within school districts and comparing this to the community level transmission data. Join me for an important discussion regarding COVID in schools. Information used on this episode was taken from the following articles: Why schools probably aren’t COVID hotspots. As COVID-19 soars in many communities, schools attempt to find ways through the crisis. NY State School COVID-19 Report Card
18 min 22 sec
The 2020 COVID Holiday season will have a different feel this year, and with many families choosing to not get together, an already isolated year can become that much more depressive. Unless, of coursed, we take this crazy situation and completely flip it around to make it the reason we start feeling better. Join us as we discuss ways to boost your holiday mood during this very different holiday season.
14 min 19 sec
The changing of seasons, especially heading into the colder and darker months can lead to a type of depression know as Season Affective Disorder (SAD). This year, with COVID restrictions still in place this will be worse given our inability to interact with more people. So what are some ways to combat this for you and kids? We discuss on Episode 68.
17 min 55 sec
Tantrums are inevitable with kids, and if you are a parent like me, you are always looking for new effective strategies to control and stop them. "Tech Tantrums" are a tantrums induced when a form of technology such as a video game or phone is taken away from the child when they are not ready to stop with it. They get angry, mean, yell, stomp, and become almost animal like. I've tried all of the strategies with little luck....until NOW. Take a listen to the new strategy that has been a game changer for me. In this episode we discuss the following article.
13 min 46 sec
How much time do you spend each day thinking about the future? New research suggests that our minds tend to live in the future, and when these future events become distorted with fear and negativity, anxiety comes rushing in. On Episode 66 we discuss an article published in the NY Times about this concept, and how we can train our minds to think of a more positive future. In this episode we discuss the following article.
19 min 18 sec
What does Cocaine, Alcohol, and Social Media have in common? They both manipulate our brains into raising the pleasure and addiction chemical, dopamine, in our brain. You. know what else? They are both addicting and can lead to serious harm. Harm in different ways, but harm none the less. So why is one illegal, one age restricted, and the other not? Join me as I make an argument we should start treating social media more like the drug it is and start thinking about age restrictions.
25 min 14 sec
How are you doing? This is the question we must take time to ask ourselves during this difficult time. It is so important we recognize the mental toll we are feeling and be willing to admit we need something. It all starts with checking in, and asking "How Am I Doing?" Join me as we do it together on Episode 64.
8 min 46 sec
Will kids go back to school this fall? This question is getting a lot of attention right now, and rightly slow. Kids have been out school since March with many districts trying their best to keep learning going through online measures. While it is clearly in the kids's and parents best interest for in class school to resume, what does the data say? And in my opinion, most importantly, how do the teachers feel, and what is their risk? We discuss these topics on Episode 64.
25 min 51 sec
We are still going…still in the first wave of this pandemic. And while the second wave hasn’t started just yet, I argue the real 2nd wave has already begun and it is here to stay. Mental health was already on the decline and the coronavirus has accelerated it. What does the data say and what can we do?
19 min 35 sec
Isolation was a necessary step at first to combat the unknown of this virus. But not that we know a lot more about it, how it spreads, and how it kills, there are ways we can protect the most vulnerable while living our lives as social beings. Has the isolation helped and worked? Absolutely. But the longer we remain isolated the longer we suffer mentally in the short term, and physically in the long term. We can't become sterile and isolated, we must continue the fight agains microbes and viruses, and the data out suggests we can do it in a smart way.
19 min 48 sec
In this episode I argue that homeschooling needs to end. While we have really tried our best to continue educating our children through this unprecedented time, humans are in survival mode and can't possibly worry about making sure our kids are doing their assignments. The toll of this experience will have more of a an affect on our kids mentally than it will intellectually, and the sole focus right now should be keeping our kids healthy and loved.
16 min 11 sec
We are living through scary, unprecedented times. People are sick, dying, losing their jobs, working from home, all while watching and home schooling their kids. The fear, stress, and anxiety is real. So how do we cope? How do we make it through. My answer? Don't be a hero, do what you can, and most of all, keep yourself and family safe. Join me on this episode as we discuss some ways I try not to be a hero in this difficult time.
12 min 26 sec
The spread of the coronavirus across the world has everyone on high alert for good reason. Never have we watched something like this spread so rapidly and kill thousands of people. In addition to causing the obvious physical health problems, the constant news coverage is causing all of us to suffer sever anxiety, stressing when we will see this virus in our own communities and if we in fact will contract the virus. On top of this, if you are a parent, your biggest fear is your children and whether our not they will contract it, and if they do, what will happen to them. This is exactly the topic we will discuss today with some hard facts and latest statistics.
17 min 3 sec
Screen time is the number one topic I get asked about, in particular, is too much bad for my kid . While the answer is impossible for me to say definitively, it is my opinion that it is. There is a lot of information out there and some will say one thing and some say the other. So who should we believe, and is the hysteria real? On today's episode I make the case from a biological perspective as to why too much screen time during the preschool age is harmful to the brain and future learning. Articles mentioned in this episode. Brain Scans. Screen time not as serious.
20 min 2 sec
Is your child anxious or just shy? If you have ever thought about this, you are not alone. A lot people have asked me what the difference is, and also if they are easy to confuse. On today's episode we talk about some of these key differences and and how long certain symptoms need to persist before anxiety can be officially diagnosed. Yes there is a clear difference, but like everything else, the earlier we can determine and help kids identify and work through anxiety, they better they will handle it as they get older. Take a listen, share with your friends, and us know what you think. Related anxiety content.
19 min 37 sec
It all Starts With You. No one else. In this new year 2020, let us all take some time to focus on ourselves and figure out a way to live a more joyous, thankful life, and in turn, our mental health and well-being will follow. On the first episode of 2020 we focus on just this, and discuss some strategies to live a more joyous life. Remember, the people around us feed off our being, so when are happier, so are they. Enjoy Episode 55, and be sure to stay tuned all year for new episodes and interviews.
17 min 45 sec
It has finally happened for me...I am about to enter the world of being a parent of a kid with a video game set. Along these lines, I have spent the past few months researching different strategies on how to introduce them with balance into kids lives, and on today's episode I share some of those strategies.
15 min 43 sec
Thankful and Thanksgiving go hand in hand, so on Episode 53 we discuss ways to be more thankful. We live in a fast paced world, and often we don't stop to take stock in all we have and how lucky we actually are. While it is understandable to lose sight of these things, learning to be more thankful will ultimately lead to a more compassionate, empathetic human race. When we are willing to say thank you, we are willing to engage, and show others that we appreciate who they are, why they are here, and what they do for us and our lives. I hope you all enjoy the show, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
15 min 35 sec
Episode 52 marks the one year anniversary of this show, and I want to thank everyone that has joined me on this journey. When I started one year ago, my goal was to share my passion for mental health with the world in the hopes that a few of you would listen and learn along with me. Well it turns out a lot more than a few have listened and I have learned maybe more than any of my listeners. On Episode 52, I share some of the lessons I have learned over this past year and talk about how they have helped me in my struggles. I hope you have learned with me and I would love to hear what you have learned along the way. Thanks for joining me on this journey, I look forward to another year.
17 min 47 sec
A new study was has caused quite a stir in the national news and on social media reporting an association between taking Tyelnol while pregnant and having a child with Autsim and/or ADHD. While there have been numerous studies linking exposure to chemicals and common medication to children with Autism, not many can conclude a direct cause and effect. This new study appears to be another one where the data is suggestive and correlative, back has some serious limitations to what it actually means. Given the attention this paper has been receiving, I wanted to breakdown the conclusions and talk about what the data actually means, and how it relates to the field of Autism and ADHD. Join me for episode 51 and I look forward to your feedback and comments.
17 min 9 sec
The world is becoming an increasingly judgmental place. That, coupled with rising depression and anxiety rates , can lead to a mentally unstable future generation. One way to fight this is with the power of self-confidence which allows us to brush off the negative and the unnecessary distractions. While easier said then done, like most things relating to the brain, the early you start, the more your brain wires to be that way. Raising a self-confident kid requires consistent strategies that promote their self-esteem and validation of their ideas and curiosity. These strategies do not have to be elaborate or involved, but rather simple and consistent. On Episode 50 we discuss 10 strategies to help build a more self-confident human. *this episodes cites this article
19 min 34 sec
Eye contact is one of the most important things for humans to learn and practice. Why? Well to start, eyes are designed to be looked at and much can be inferred by simply looking someone in the eyes. While the importance of this is widely known with numerous studies highlighting the benefits, eye contact amongst younger generations is on the decline. On today's show we discuss the importance of eye contact and some strategies we can use to help younger kids practice this important form of communication. Join me for an important episode as we discuss the safety of this rising trend. We reference this article in the episode.
20 min 59 sec
Is Vaping safe? Vaping has been in the news for its association to mysterious string of lung diseases across the country. Over 800 people have now been hospitalized and 8 people have died. Numerous sates have issued bans on related products, and the FDA and CDC are now investigating. With all of this scary information out there and the fact that over 25% of high school students reporting to have vaped, the question everyone has right now is, "Is Vaping Safe?" On today's show we try to answer that question by providing the latest information on what is going on. We will approach the answer from two angles. The first is the general problem, that is, before all of these people started getting sick, was vaping a good idea? The second topic we discuss is the new problem and why all of these people are getting so sick, and so rapidly. Is it just people that vape nicotine? Is marijuana involved? What about CBD? Join me for an important episode as we discuss the safety of this rising trend. We reference this article in the episode.
15 min 40 sec
Reading and writing was once considered not just a necessity of life, but also a way for humans to communicate effectively, engage their minds, and expand their knowledge. With the advent of technology and the rise of tv and tablets, some wonder if the creative arts including reading and writing are gone forever. While I definitely agree that reading a book is not as popular with the youth and even adults for that matter, our primitive brains do prefer a good old fashioned story to engage with, and if more kids engage with the arts in some fashion, it might make them feel more connected and engaged with society as a whole. To discus this fascinating topic I welcome poet and author Joseph Fasano to the show talk about his experience with teaching kids about the arts, his experience as a writer, and what his take is on if the art of reading and writing is lost and gone forever. WATCH ON YOUTUBE!
38 min 20 sec