Navigating the Teenage Landscape: Understanding Substance Use with Dr. Tunde Apantaku-Olajide

Embark on a crucial exploration into the world of substance use in teenagers with the insightful Dr. Tunde Apantaku-Olajide, a Pediatric Psychiatrist specializing in Addictions. Our conversation unveils the distinctions between substance use disorder and abuse, emphasizing the potential risks that can surface as early as nine years old. Dr. Apantaku-Olajide provides clarity on the difference between substance use disorder and abuse, highlighting the habitual and dangerous patterns that define the former and the occasional undesirable effects characterizing the latter.

Delving into the realities faced by teenagers, we explore the prevalence of substance use, with a focus on marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, and psychedelics. Dr. Apantaku-Olajide sheds light on the importance of substance education, underscoring its impact on cognitive function and overall life. As we navigate the challenges of preventing substance abuse in teens, Dr. Apantaku-Olajide offers practical strategies for parents. From modelling positive behaviours to maintaining a healthy level of involvement without being overprotective, setting household rules, and dedicating quality time, these preventative measures form a foundation for fostering a supportive and informed environment.

To gain the full scope of our enlightening discussion, head over to my podcast and listen to the episode titled “Substance Use in Teens”. Together, let’s unravel the complexities of substance use in teens and empower parents with the knowledge to navigate this critical aspect of adolescent well-being.

Beyond ADHD: A Journey of Discovery and Empowerment with Dr. Diana Mercado-Marmarosh

Embark on a transformative journey with Dr. Diana Mercado-Marmarosh as we delve into her remarkable narrative—from being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult to evolving into a coach for physicians and adults navigating the intricate realms of ADHD. Join us on this enlightening exploration, where we discuss the often-overlooked journey of girls whose ADHD symptoms may not surface until later in life.

In our riveting conversation, Dr. Mercado-Marmarosh candidly shares her personal journey of being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult. Her story unfolds as a testament to the resilience and adaptability inherent in the human spirit. From diagnosis to empowerment, Dr. Mercado-Marmarosh’s experience serves as a beacon for those grappling with ADHD later in life. A significant aspect of our discussion revolves around the challenges faced by girls, often eluding ADHD diagnoses until later in life. Dr. Mercado-Marmarosh sheds light on the subtle ways ADHD manifests in girls and the societal factors contributing to delayed recognition. The conversation becomes a call for heightened awareness and early intervention.

To grasp the full depth of our dialogue, head over to my podcast and tune in to the episode titled “Beyond ADHD.” Dr. Diana Mercado-Marmarosh’s journey is not just a personal narrative; it’s an inspiring narrative of transformation and empowerment. Let’s explore the complexities of ADHD, challenge preconceptions, and foster a community of understanding and support.

Unlocking Potential: Navigating Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Classroom with Mrs. Laura Alabi

In my conversation with Mrs. Laura Alabi, CEO of Herizon Educational Services, we delved into the complexities of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) within the classroom. Uncovering challenges faced by both students on the spectrum and the educators striving to support them, our discussion revealed valuable insights and strategies. Mrs. Alabi highlighted the often-overlooked challenges faced by children on the autism spectrum in schools. Many institutions lack awareness, leaving teachers ill-equipped to address the unique needs of these students. The result? Increased agitation, misunderstood emotions, learning gaps, and sensory issues all contribute to the children feeling unrecognized. Teachers, too, confront hurdles in managing children on the spectrum, often due to a lack of resources and a fundamental misunderstanding of how to effectively handle the disorder. Our conversation shed light on the importance of bridging these gaps for a more inclusive educational environment.

The heart of our discussion centred on empowering teachers with practical strategies. Mrs. Alabi emphasized the efficacy of tools like the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECT), enabling children to familiarize themselves with their surroundings through visuals. Another key strategy involved creating social stories, allowing students to read about their settings and build comfort within the classroom environment.

Join the Full Conversation:
For a comprehensive exploration of these insights and more, tune in to the full interview on my podcast episode “Autism Spectrum Disorder in the Classroom”. Mrs. Laura Alabi’s expertise provides a roadmap for educators, parents, and anyone invested in fostering an inclusive learning space for children on the autism spectrum. Let’s collectively unlock the potential within every child, ensuring that no one feels left behind in the pursuit of education.

Navigating the Spectrum: Understanding Autism with Dr. Nike Aladetoyinbo

In the complex tapestry of neurodevelopmental disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) emerges as a unique thread, weaving challenges and strengths within the realms of social interaction, communication, and behaviours. Dr. Nike Aladetoyinbo joined me in unravelling the mysteries surrounding autism, offering insights into its impact, identification tools, and essential resources for those on this extraordinary spectrum. Dr. Aladetoyinbo guided us through the intricate landscape of ASD, emphasizing its manifestation in social interaction, communication, and behaviours. Autism, as she highlighted, doesn’t discriminate; its expression varies across different environments.

Diagnosing and Recognizing Typical Symptoms:
We delved into the crucial topic of diagnosis and recognition of autism symptoms. Key milestones, such as the absence of smiling by six weeks or a lack of babbling by 6-9 months, were discussed. Valuable tools were explored for parents to assess potential signs of autism in their children.

Available Resources for Autism:
Upon receiving an autism diagnosis, Dr. Aladetoyinbo advocated for a comprehensive approach. Speech therapy, occupational therapy and others were identified as crucial pillars of support. Equally emphasized were the roles of supportive parents and family members in creating a nurturing environment for children on the spectrum. As we navigated the landscape of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Dr. Nike Aladetoyinbo served as a compassionate guide, steering us through understanding, diagnosis, and support. To gain the full scope of our conversation, head over to my podcast and listen to our episode titled “Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Together, let’s foster awareness and embrace the available resources, contributing to a more inclusive and compassionate world for individuals with autism and their families.

“A Journey to Wellness: Unveiling the Power of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy” with Dr. Yewande Olamide.

Embark on a transformative journey into the realm of mental health as we unravel the profound impact of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) on conquering depression. In this exploration, guided by the expertise of our esteemed guest, Dr. Yewande Olamide, we delve into the fundamental principles and versatile applications of CBT.

At its core, CBT emerges as a dynamic and goal-oriented psychotherapy, unveiling the intricate web of negative thought patterns and behaviours that often obscure our minds. Dr. Olamide illuminates the versatility of CBT, extending its efficacy beyond depression to encompass a spectrum of mental health disorders—from anxiety and phobias to insomnia, self-esteem issues, parenting challenges, relationship struggles, and burnout.

The 3 R’s: Building Habits for Lasting Change:
Dr. Olamide introduces a practical framework within CBT—the 3 R’s: Remind, Reduce, and Reward. This approach empowers individuals to form new habits by creating cues, simplifying tasks, and providing positive reinforcement. It’s a transformative tool to navigate the journey toward lasting change.

  • Remind: Establish cues or triggers that prompt desired habits.
  • Reduce: Break down habits into manageable components, reducing perceived effort.
  • Reward: Celebrate successes with a positive reinforcement system, strengthening the connection between habit and accomplishment.

With Dr. Yewande Olamide’s expert insights, we uncover the potential of CBT in navigating the complex terrain of depression. Beyond understanding, CBT offers a tangible roadmap to recovery, reminding us that change is not only possible but achievable—one positive thought and behaviour at a time.

To experience the full scope of our enlightening conversation, head over to my podcast and listen to our episode titled “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Depression.” Let’s embark on this transformative journey together.

Dreaming Big: The Power of Quality Sleep in Teen Mental Health

In the whirlwind of teenage life, where academic pressures, social dynamics, and self-discovery take center stage, an unsung hero quietly holds the key to well-being — sleep. Join us on a journey guided by the wisdom of Dr. Funke Afolabi Brown as we unravel the profound connection between sleep and teen mental health, exploring the essential elements of quality, quantity, and timing.

Dr. Afolabi Brown illuminates the significance of sleep, likening it to the fundamental acts of eating and breathing. In dissecting the components of sleep — quality, quantity, and timing — we gain insight into how these factors influence the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of teenagers.

  • Quality: Internal and external factors dance together to shape the quality of our sleep. From medical disorders to lifestyle choices, habits, and even device usage, every decision echoes in the silent hours of the night.
  • Quantity: Teens, in the throes of rapid growth, require 8-10 hours of sleep, with adults ranging from 7-10. Recognizing the unique needs of each age group is pivotal in fostering a healthy sleep routine.
  • Timing: Circadian rhythms, the internal clocks that dictate when we sleep and wake, play a pivotal role. For teens, the misalignment between their natural rhythm and imposed bedtime can lead to a frustrating battle with insomnia.

Strategies for Healthy Sleep:
Navigating the intricate dance between sleep and teen mental health, Dr. Afolabi Brown shares practical strategies to foster healthy sleep habits, some including:

  • Engage in open conversations with teens about the benefits of sleep.
  • Establish consistent sleep and wake times to regulate circadian rhythms.
  • Implement calming routines, such as warm baths or reading, before bedtime.
  • And many more …

To delve into the full scope of our enlightening conversation, head over to my podcast and listen to our episode titled “Sleep and Teen Mental Health.” Let’s dream big and foster well-being together.

Managing your mental health in the middle years

Life begins at 40 !!….. Forty is the new 20!!…. Fabulous at 40!!…. Fit at 50 ….. are all common themes that are mentioned as we ease into the so-called middle years. It is often said that middle-aged women are in the anchor years. They are frequently caring for their growing children as well as their aging parents. They juggle careers with trying to maintain important relationships. These years can be challenging years and take their toll on emotional health. This is even more so if you are caring for a child with a chronic health condition.

I would like to share a few tips that would help along your way:

  1. Optimize your physical health: Prioritize sleep, a balanced diet, rest/relaxation and exercise. Schedule those health checks. (Check out my YouTube channel where my guests and I have discussed these). Monitor your screen time.
  2. Protect your emotional space: Examples of ways to do this include;
    a) avoiding “doom scrolling” or listening to news channels that update every few minutes and may not always be positive.
    b) Getting off the comparison wheel as you view those carefully curated online photographs of perfect figures, houses and relationships.
    c) Using the mute/block button for conversations/ groups that do not serve you.
  3. Identifying your support system and cultivating relationships in your community: Get to know your neighbours. Spend time with family, and make time to let your hair down with friends. Identify people you can confide in or who share similar interests/ experiences, kids in the same age group etc.

Which of these strategies have you used? Please share other strategies you have found useful.

Watch out for part 2 of this conversation.

Summer Mental Health Maintenance.

Hello there!!

I trust that you are enjoying your summer so far. It has been hot and we are getting a lot of opportunities to play outside, go on bike rides, swim, etc. Lots of outdoor events and barbecues happening too.

I am sure you are grateful for the downtime and opportunity to let your hair down. I hope you are enjoying some well-deserved rest as well as opportunities to spend time with your family.

As the summer months continue to roll by, you may be trying to push all thoughts of returning to school to the back of your mind but continue to have some niggling worries. I have been doing several short videos with tips to ensure that all the gains your child made in their mental health during the school year are not lost. We certainly do not want to be starting from scratch again in the fall.

Tips for all children

Whether a child has a specific mental health diagnosis or not, these tips would be useful:

  1. Ensuring adequate sleep, a healthy diet, and physical activity.

2. Providing opportunities for social interactions with peers and family members. Ensure they are not spending long periods isolating in their bedroom or your basement for example. Be intentional about the quality of time spent checking in and communicating with your child. Remember that being in the same house all day does not guarantee effective communication.

3. Developing new skills such as a new hobby or a life skill. This may be developed by assigning them age-appropriate chores and having them help out with meal preparation, gardening, etc depending on their interests.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

   All the above plus some structure and consistency.  Take the opportunity to remind them of self-management/ organizational skills. This may include the use of visual schedules, lists, and reminders. Structured settings such as summer camps may help reinforce positive behaviors such as turn-taking.

Autism spectrum disorder.

 Children on the Autism spectrum may be rigid and intolerant of changes to their routine without advance notice. The summer months may be a time to introduce some mild changes to the routine to help your child learn to tolerate changes.  It is also important to continue to work on their social skills by providing opportunities for social interactions. A video on my Instagram page specifically addresses traveling with children on the Autism spectrum.


In addition to all the tips provided above encourage scheduled activity and social interactions, If they are receiving medication or psychotherapy, encourage compliance and full participation. Watch out for evidence of risk of harm to themselves. An indication that a child is engaging In self-harm may be a reluctance to wear clothing that would show their arms or legs despite warmer temperatures.


Anxiety thrives by avoiding what makes us anxious. A common one In school-aged children is Social anxiety. Your child must continue to be exposed to anxiety-provoking situations during the summer months so that returning to school in the fall does not become an uphill task. Examples of such anxiety-provoking situations may include attending a summer camp, paying for items in a store, placing an order over the phone, family gatherings, play dates, and hanging out with you and your friends who may children in the same age range.

Eating disorders

Eating meals together from time to time will help you to see what food choices your teen may be making. You can observe portion sizes and any attempts to cut out food groups. You can also choose to exercise together to ensure they are not exercising excessively. Their choice of clothing may also be an indication that they may be trying to conceal significant weight loss in baggy clothing for example.

Intentional preparation would ensure that the transition back to school is not too difficult. Consider reaching out to your Child’s school ahead. Certain schools have strategies in place to make returning to school less daunting. Your child may be able to visit their new classroom ahead of school resumption. Some allow a phased return to school so that a student does not become too overwhelmed. If your child is on a personalized learning plan, ensure the new teacher is aware of this and the recommended resources are in place.

Please follow me on Instagram and Youtube for regular youth mental health information. Consider signing your 9-12-year-old up for the Emotions Ambassador program to learn more about healthy emotions and so much more.

Enjoy the rest of your summer. 

Walking on eggshells?…… Parenting a teen who is depressed.

Walking on eggshells………How do I parent a child who is depressed?

One of the most frequent comments from the parents of teenagers who are experiencing depressing symptoms is that these parents are unsure whether their actions would be helpful or harmful and are usually walking on eggshells.

Individuals experiencing depression may feel sad a lot of the time, lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, or withdraw from their friends and family. They may experience changes in sleep patterns, appetite, energy levels, and motivation/drive. They may also express a wish to be dead or to end their lives.

Possible challenges to parenting a child or adolescent experiencing these symptoms include figuring out how to tackle withdrawal from family activities, changes in sleep schedule, and a perceived reluctance to get school work done. As a parent are you unsure if you should insist on maintaining set boundaries/ rules or relax all rules so as not to upset your ward?

 Below are some reminders and tips you may find helpful:

Your child continues to require a parent.

No matter what mental health symptoms your children experience, they will still benefit from you continuing to fulfill your parental role of ensuring structure, routine and healthy boundaries. They are most likely experiencing a roller coaster of difficult emotions. The comfort of predictable family life would be a reassuring factor in what can be a tumultuous time.

Boundaries are healthy.

 A lot of parents have discussed their fear of having boundaries in place or disciplining challenging behavior in their adolescent who is experiencing depressive symptoms. It is important to realize that a teenager with depression is still a teenager who may make poor choices and it is important to ensure that you maintain boundaries and they continue to know the consequences to expect. This helps to keep your child safe and is important to maintain a healthy atmosphere at home. Remember that other children in your home are observing and you don’t want to give inconsistent messages.

Activity scheduling is a part of the journey to recovery.

Having a predictable schedule and encouraging scheduled activity is an important part of the treatment of depression so encouraging your child to get out of bed at a regular time every day is important. Other helpful routines that you can encourage include self-care, looking after their hygiene, regular meals, and bedtime. I encourage school attendance if it is safe to do so. This is not so much for academic rigor but the structured routine it provides as well as the opportunity for social interactions.

Good habits are always good.

Healthy nutrition is important to improving mood. Encouraging the whole family to have some meals together can help break the cycle of social withdrawal, improve family relationships, and helps to ensure they are adequately nourished. It would also be important to ensure that they get enough sleep. Depression can also mean that teenagers want to be in bed all the time. In such instances, encouraging them to get out of bed at a reasonable hour and to stay out of bed during the day may be the habit to promote.

The elephant in the room.

 Parents are frequently unsure how to approach talking about their Child’s mental health symptoms/ diagnosis at home. It is important to find a middle ground. It is important to let your child know you are a calm reassuring presence in their lives, you are open to hearing about their challenges and will not become upset at what they will discuss. There may be a need to balance this with letting them know that their space with their therapist or mental health professional is confidential and you do not need to know every single thing they choose to discuss in those settings. You can also let them know they can choose to wait to discuss some matters with their health care professional but agree on a safety plan to discuss risk issues with you in times of crisis instead of waiting for their next appointment. I always encourage teenagers to discuss suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self-harm with their parents so that parents know to get them help as soon as possible.

If you have any concerns that your child may be at risk of harm to themselves at any time, please contact your health care professional or proceed to the nearest Emergency Department.

Dr Tolulope Alugo


How to effectively parent youth with mental health diagnosis: Parenting a child with ADHD(Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD).Part 1

This week we will discuss parenting a child who is hyperactive.
Children and teens with ADHD experience symptoms such as being very active, unable to sit still, talkative, and cutting into adult conversations. They may be reluctant to hold your hand when crossing a busy street and may even run across before you are ready to do so. They may have difficulty waiting their turn or get impatient as you wait in line at the grocery store. As they get older, they may no longer run around your home but may be constantly fidgeting, tapping, etc. You may find they are so forgetful it is unsafe to have them around appliances without supervision. Are they leaving the stove on, their hair straightener plugged in, or asking you to bring their homework folder to school? These are some of the symptoms you may already see in your child/ teen with ADHD.

Here are some tips to help you parent your child with ADHD:

Burn off energy. Encourage children to burn off excess energy through physical activity. Let your child run around outside, ride a bike or play pretend sporting competitions with siblings or neighbors. Indoor toys such as skipping rope and mini trampolines are other options. Enroll them in sporting activities in your community or encourage activities that the whole family can do together. Activities that involve constant motion may be better than those with lots of downtimes. These improve their attention and can strengthen your bond as a family.

Fidget tools
If it is challenging to get them to sit still long enough to do their homework, consider having your child sit on a fidget stool, an exercise ball, or having a fidget toy in hand.

Healthy sleep routine
Try to ensure regular bedtime hours and the opportunity to wind down before bed. A calming routine may include quieter activities such as coloring, a short bedtime story or a warm drink, and the opportunity to use the bathroom.

Keep them occupied.
Encourage your child to help out with tasks at home, helping with meal prep or short periods of playing board games with a sibling. Endeavor to limit screen time.

Caregiver self-care.
Be mindful of your mental health, pick your battles as you continue to parent through symptoms of hyperactivity, and avoid constantly expressing your dissatisfaction about your child’s behavior. Seek support and possibly ask others to care for your child so that you can get a break.

Download a free mental health tip sheet to help you and other caregivers understand your child’s mental health better.