Authored by Allan Pauole

Improving our children’s mental health and our own: Insights from a behavioral health provider

October 3, 2023 | Behavioral Health

According to research, 88% of Utah parents say social media has a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of children.


Mental health providers are not somehow immune from the hardships and reality that come with daily living. Perhaps the one hardship of life that bothers me the most both personally and professionally is the general lack of civility and unkindness that seems to find its way into our interactions with others. Like an acid, it typically eats away and erodes the well-being of the individual long before it infects others. My youngest daughter will often tease her four older siblings when they pick on her with the response,” That’s not very kind”. We all laugh at this statement because of how she says it and when she says it. However, I think there is a strong element of truth within it.

I have found that, like the common cold, rudeness and anger are easily contracted, and exposure to one episode can have long-lasting effects. When we’re around meanness, we may even misinterpret ambiguous behavior as hostile. In a world full of heartache, turmoil, and instability, there is no reason to add anger to the mix. Even if others choose incivility, we don’t have to follow suit. Acting with kindness and grace won’t eradicate mental conditions like anxiety and depression, or eliminate other conditions. However, it’s the easiest way to ward off those behaviors that quickly spiral out of control and negatively affect our mental state. Please be kind to one another, especially when we don’t understand someone for we have no idea what another person has experienced or is going through.


A recent study published by the American Psychological Association noted that the majority of adults (62%) disagreed with the statement, “Our children are going to inherit a better world than we did,”. Around a third of adults reported that stress is completely overwhelming most days. About 76% said they have experienced health impacts due to stress in the prior month, including headaches and fatigue.

So what can we do? Get out of the habit of ruminating on potential consequences. It can make you feel like the worst case is already happening. This can cause us to feel threatened and afraid before it is necessary. Asking someone else to solve the problem for you perpetuates the feeling that you are powerless. Rescuers are often actually enablers who keep us from taking responsibility for our own lives. Instead, seek out emotionally supportive friends and family who see you as capable and can help you focus on the next steps for addressing your concerns. I love asking questions like, “What do you need from me or others around you?” or “What do you want to do about this situation?” This is one of the best ways to validate and empower individuals. The answers often surprise me and can move our discussions in a new and higher direction.

Social Media on Youth

The US Surgeon General issued a warning, “We cannot conclude that social media is sufficiently safe for children and adolescents”.

In recent months, Utah Governor Cox has been very vocal about the impact of Social Media on our children. Governor Cox launched a new harms of social media public awareness campaign where it stated the following.

According to research, 88% of Utah parents say social media has a detrimental impact on the mental health and well-being of children. Utah parents are concerned about their children’s mental health, body image, brain development, and sleep patterns. In fact, 63% of Utah parents reported feeling very concerned about social media impacting their child’s mental health, especially in regard to feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, depression, and suicide ideation.

Governor Cox went on to say, “It’s undeniable that social media is harming our children’s mental and physical health, brain chemistry, self-esteem, and more. Parents need to know about these dangers so they can best help their children and teens. We encourage all Utahns to consider less screen time and more human connection. Let’s disconnect to reconnect.” This past year he signed 2 bills aimed at limiting the overreaching power of social media in the state.

Tips for parents:

  • Create a family media plan with expectations of how and when to use technology and social media.
  • Learn about social media platforms and how they work.
  • Have open and honest discussions with your child about the harms of social media and spending time online.
  • Model responsible online behavior for your child.
  • Reconsider allowing your child to have social media.
  • Make time to connect with your child device-free.
  • Create tech-free zones and find opportunities to connect in person with your child.


I recently participated in a podcast with Michaelann Gardner, Senior Director for the United Way of Utah County. As part of their EveryDay Strong series, the topic I was assigned to discuss with her was on helping parents determine whether or not their child needs counseling services. This is a question that is asked often. There is still very much a negative stereotype associated with mental health services, although there has been much more acceptance of it over the last couple of years. My dream is to have mental health services be viewed like going to the dentist or getting an annual well exam completed each year. It should be incorporated more seamlessly into our other health maintenance and preventative exams.

As I meet with patients, there are times when I would like individuals to come in for a few more visits while other times I don’t recommend any additional services as this process becomes very much individualized. I recognize that it can be difficult to determine what may be a problem that needs to be addressed further while understanding that some other experiences are a very natural and even healthy part of growing up. Hopefully, this podcast clears up some of those concerns that parents may have.


Several years ago I was meeting with a physical therapist to address some lower lumbar pain that I was experiencing. As I was being moved through the assessment process, it became clear to the therapist what was wrong. He diagnosed tight hamstrings and gave me a series of stretches for which he wanted me to practice in the office. As I complained about the discomfort, he smiled a little bit and reassured me that it was a part of getting better. I was reminded that the law of growth requires constant stretching, pushing, and pulling. The same can be said for our mental health.

I try to be transparent as much as possible during my visits and encourage as many questions regardless of the level of discomfort. I will even let those I am speaking with know that I may be pushing them a little bit more strongly than I would otherwise, especially when I can see some positive growth occurring or if I am particularly concerned about a sensitive topic. Stretching ourselves to try something new, go somewhere unfamiliar, or go without a schedule can help us become more comfortable with the unknown and our ability to handle it.

If you have any concerns about your mental health or the mental health of a loved one you can call Allan Pauole, CMHC, or one of our Revere Health Behavioral Health offices in Utah.

Allan Pauole, CMHC


Allan Pauole, CMHC

Allan Pauole is one of our mental health therapists. He has worked for Utah, Juab and Millard counties providing both mental health and substance abuse counseling for hospitals, Utah’s drug court population, and private agencies. Allan also worked for the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah as a social worker and served as the primary liaison for the tribe in all child custody hearings involving the Division of Child and Family Services and the juvenile courts. He is quite versed in navigating the sometimes dueling interests between the mental health and legal systems. Allan has been a licensed clinical mental health counselor for over 15 years and has extensive training in Motivational Interviewing (MI), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), substance abuse counseling, and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy(TF-CBT). He is EMDR trained. He is also able to treat all forms of Anxiety, Depression, ADHD, PTSD, and Personality Disorders for patients of all ages. He has an especially strong interest in working with teens and college age adults as he recognizes the challenging and unique transition phase this can be.

Telehealth is not appropriate for every medical concern, so it’s important to ask your provider whether a virtual visit is suitable for your needs.

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.