Listen Up: New podcast delves into common mental health issues for children, adolescents

By Francie Williamson, Communications Coordinator, Department of Psychiatry

Families searching for information about their childrens’ mental health issues have a new source to which they can turn.

On July 31, residents in the child and adolescent psychiatry program at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics launched a podcast entitled, “Byte-Sized Brain: Tips for You and Your Child.” The first series of episodes deals with issues such as insomnia and sleep apnea, as well as information about how to get better sleep. It is available to download at as well as the iTunes Store, Google Podcasts and Spotify.

Laura Fuller, PhD, who is faculty advisor for the project, said she thought the podcast “seemed like an amazing way to help our patients and families and reach a broader audience.”

“We do our best to explain our recommendations to families when we see them in clinic, but sometimes people are very overwhelmed by all the information they are given, and having these podcasts seemed like a great way to reinforce some of the things we find ourselves talking about the most often during clinic visits,” Fuller says. 

Child psychiatry resident Oluwemimo “Wemi” Adeyanju, MD, said Fuller and Jamie Elizalde, PhD, “provided validity to our ideas and provided us a platform so we could continue talking about what it would look like and what need it might fill.”

Adeyanju says the podcast is targeted to parents and caregivers of children and adolescents, “however, we are also hopeful that older kids might be interested in learning more for themselves as well.”

The episodes are designed to be less than five minutes long, and Adeyanju says patients and their families could listen to them in the lobby while waiting for their appointments.

“I think the benefit of a podcast is that it's something less obtrusive as you don't necessarily need to be in a quiet discrete location,” Adeyanju says. “You don't have to strain your eyes to read small print. You don't have to wait in a scheduling queue. You honestly don't even have to get out of bed. However, it might help the quality of your sleep if you do get out of bed. You can listen to our first few short episodes about sleep to learn more.”

Future plans

Adeyanju says the residents surveyed faculty and staff within the department to prioritize which topics the podcast should address. Future episodes will likely focus on topics such as mood disorders, anxiety, and psychotropic medications.

Financial support for the podcast came from the Stead Family Children’s Hospital Discretionary Fund.

“We plan to use these funds to primarily ensure that we are producing a high quality product for our patient population and their families in relation to recording the audio, hosting, making sure families are aware this product exists, and on devices for families to use while they're waiting in the lobby or perhaps even the emergency room,” Adeyanju says.

Recording the first episodes of the podcast was complicated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so the residents used their mobile phones instead of a studio.

“I'm completely biased but I think we did reasonably well all things considered,” Adeyanju says. ”However this is just the start for us. We are learning together as we go along which I think is the most important part.”

Aside from her fellow child psychiatry residents, Adeyanju credited David Etler of The Short Coat Podcast for giving the residents tips on how to start a podcast, and Janelle Hasen from the Office of Patient Experience “who gave us some advice regarding language and was able to help review some of our scripts.”

Within the Department of Psychiatry, Adeyanju says Doug Langbhen, MD, produced music and Communications Coordinator Francie Williamson provided production assistance.

Thursday, August 13, 2020