• Diana

Hello Rochester: Therapy With Maggie

Maggie Morrissey has been a clinician for five years and truly enjoys her work. She opened her private practice a year ago. Before receiving her Masters Degree in Social Work, Maggie worked at Hillside Family of Agencies working directly with children ages 6+ and got a firsthand view of the effects of trauma on childhood development. This experience inspired her to become a therapist. Maggie is comfortable working with a variety of mental health disorders. She specializes in working with children and adolescents, women’s issues, relationship challenges and grief.


1. What impacts the mental wellbeing of teens today?

There are so many things that currently impact teens. Let’s start with social media for example. It disrupts sleep cycles, influences self-esteem, increases exposure to certain stimuli, is a tremendous distraction and for the first time ever, teens are not getting a break from bullying. Previous generations may have experienced bullying in some form but were able to get a break from it at certain points when they went home from school for example. Now, bullying happens over social media and there is no break or escape. Everything you say or do can be captured and used against you. On the flip-side, teens are connecting to others more than they ever have previously and can share and receive information quicker than previous generations. Academic challenges, substance use, peer pressure, family conflict and sexual activity are still challenges that influence teens today as well.

2. Has COVID-19 impacted the mental health of teens? If so, in what ways? The pandemic is certainly impacting teens. Isolation and lack of social interaction or connection seems to be a real issue. Currently we are not sure to what extent this will impact teens long term, however what we do know is that teens need social, physical and educational interaction for childhood development. I would not be shocked if in the future we find that there is a small delay in school aged children in social development. Regardless, this does not mean they will not catch up if this is the case! Now that teens are participating in online learning, we will have to wait and see how this impacts their learning. Will they be behind? We still need more data and research to truly know the full effects. Something that is concerning though is the situations they may be exposed to at home. Many times, school is an escape for teens struggling with abuse, neglect or conflict. Now many of them are stuck in difficult situations with no break.

3. What can a parent do to support a teen who is struggling to maintain their mental wellbeing?

Encouragement, consistent boundaries, modeling behavior, quality time and validation. Teens may act as though they don’t need you and have it all figured out, but they don’t. They still need to be encouraged in their passions, desires and goals. It means a lot more to them to have a parent’s support than they may let on. Although teens are pushing boundaries, they still need them to feel secure. Remember, teens are not done emotionally developing and still need you to give them limits! Modeling is important too. How you express and handle your emotions can directly impact and influence how your teen will respond to situations as well. Although they may not want to spend as much time with you anymore, it is still important to create one-on-one time to connect, explore their inner world and encourage them to share their feelings. The best thing you can do is listen and validate their feelings as you guide and support them in their struggles.

4. What is the mental health stigma and how can it be combatted?

There are so many mental health stigmas. I will try to keep this answer short and sweet. One stigma is that if you struggle with a mental health disorder it boxes you in/limits your ability to do certain things in life. I want to make this clear, each disorder is still on a spectrum. At times you may struggle with sever anxiety and at other points have such a decrease in symptoms that you no longer qualify in meeting a diagnosis’s criteria. Not all mental health disorders are set in stone, many times you can reduce symptoms through therapy, life changes and medication management even if you have a chronic mental health disorder. Don’t ever give up on your dreams and goals!

5. What resources are available in NY for teens struggling with their mental health?

There are a lot of resources in NYS for teens and families. If you are not sure where to start, many times schools and PCP’s have information specific to the community you reside in. Another great resource is https://omh.ny.gov/omhweb/childservice/ . This site can direct you in finding a lot of information related to mental health treatment and support.

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