The 85-year-old psychiatric and addiction treatment facility Silver Hill Hospital is taking to a new-media format in order to combat stigma and to elevate its own presence in its Connecticut community.
“Straight Talk with Tracey” is a magazine-style video podcast that made its debut this week on the HAN Network. Host Tracey Masella serves as program manager of Silver Hill's adolescent transitional living program, and she sees destigmatization of behavioral illness as particularly critical for the benefit of the young population.
“If your kid has cancer, you have casseroles in your freezer for months,” says Masella. “If your kid is hospitalized for depression or suicidality, you're cut off.”
While the first two taped podcasts focused on adolescent topics (the first on distinguishing between normal and potentially concerning youth behavior, and the second on family communication with teens), Masella says the podcast will take a broad-based approach to mental health and addiction content. Upcoming subjects for the approximately 30-minute segments include eating disorders/body dysmorphia, gay/lesbian issues, and the opioid crisis. The first show aired on May 11. Subjects for the programs will be announced in advance in order to give audience members the chance to submit questions ahead of the taping.
Raising the profile
Masella says the podcast idea grew out of conversations with Silver Hill child and adolescent psychiatrist Aaron Krasner, MD, who observed along with Masella that their talks on these topics in the community always left those in attendance wanting more.
Another physician with Silver Hill had done radio segments in the past, so the first thought was to start a radio show. But Masella jumped at the idea of a podcast with video when the opportunity arose. “I think it's more engaging,” she says of the format.
She also hopes the monthly shows (they will air at 12 noon Eastern time on the second Thursday of each month) elevate Silver Hill's own profile in the local community, and not just for inpatient rehabilitation.
“Part of the goal is to have people see us as a resource for our community,” Masella says. “So many of our patients come from places other than our local area.”
From a content perspective, she says, “I hope that the podcasts start dialogues, either in families or communities, or in book groups, or churches, or schools.”
Again, Masella thinks of how the young people in her relatively affluent surrounding community of Fairfield County could benefit. “It's my mission to have our community focus as much on social and emotional health as on academic health,” she says. “So much time is spent on making sure kids are getting the highest ACT scores, and so little time on, 'How are our kids doing?' Are we preparing them to manage themselves in the larger community?”