Child Psychiatrist Gayani DeSilva helps teens — and their parents — stop addiction and depression before it starts
May 2021: A Note from Hope Katz Gibbs, producer, BeInkandscent Health & Wellness magazine — So often, I am honored to meet truly amazing women in the most unlikely places. Dr. Gayani DeSilva is the perfect example. Having moved recently to Claremont, CA, to attend the positive psychology program at Claremont Graduate University (another story), I took myself out for a sushi lunch and to study. However, rather than cracking the books, I struck up a conversation with the nice woman sitting next to me.
She, too, was dining alone and commented on the book I was attempting (unsuccessfully) to memorize. We began an hour-long chat that turned into a new friendship. While she seemed interested in my work and life, I was fascinated by hers!
A child and adolescent psychiatrist, Gayani obtained her medical training at Albany Medical College before interning at Brown University and doing a residency at Harvard. She has won numerous awards for her insights and work, including helping children in juvenile justice centers and foster care.
“Much of that work consists of understanding the complex array of needs of adolescent and young adult criminal and violent offenders,” Gayani explained. “I work to understand the interplay between mental illness, societal factors, and interpersonal issues.”
Based on her experience and research, she has so far written two books (see below) that provide insight for parents hoping to help depressed tweens and keep their children from suffering from addiction.
“I am dedicated to improving the health and wellness of children, and also the whole family,” says the mother of a son who practices in Laguna Beach, CA. “Straight talk and practical expertise are my tools. “To understand the deeper needs of a child, a parent can better support them as they mature.”
If there’s ever a time when more parents need advice on how to keep kids mentally safe and well, it’s now! Scroll down for more! Follow Dr. Gayani DeSilva on Twitter.
Dr. DeSilva explains: In my practice as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, the parents of my patients most often ask me, What do I say to him (or her)? These are well-meaning parents who care deeply for their children but find themselves at a loss for how to begin, maintain and resolve conversations with their children who struggle with illnesses like depression, ADHD, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.
Though this book focuses on how parents can converse with their children who have a mental illness, the skills, and tools presented in this book apply to parents of all children.
When faced with the challenge of trying to connect with their children, parents are frequently so focused on their child talking with them that they miss ways to make a meaningful connection that leads to increased understanding between the parent and child. This book will help parents learn to be cognizant of childhood developmental processes and how their child s illness impacts development. Using knowledge about neurodevelopment, psychological development, and psychiatric disorders, parents will learn how to use conversation to improve bonding, bolster their child s self-esteem, and aid their child s development.
Dr. DeSilva explains: “Addictive substances and activities hijack the teenage brain to create an addiction. This book demystifies addiction from a neurological and psychological perspective, explaining how the brain changes in response to addictive stimuli and psychological factors.
The teenage brain and psyche are particularly vulnerable to developing addictions because, during the teen years, the brain is in a phase of rapid and profound development. Moreover, more than half of all suicides were with people who were intoxicated.
With a non-judgmental approach, I describe family dynamics and parenting choices that inadvertently promote the development of an addiction. Armed with knowledge about how addiction develops, I coach parents on optimizing their parenting strategies to help their children avoid getting addicted.