Our Children Are in Crisis, and Patchwork “Solutions” Aren’t Helping. Now What?

Photo courtesy: CDC

Oxford, MS — Parents and educators are beyond overwhelmed. We must guide a generation of young people who battle a perfect storm of dangers: drug misuse, mental health struggles, social media overload, intense academic pressures, a grim economy, and a precarious future. Addiction and overdoses are rising sharply. So are deaths by suicide. (In fact, a new report by the CDC points to an unprecedented rise in suicidal thoughts by teenage girls.)

            Naturally, we’re desperate to help the kids we love. But the issues are so complex and severe that we struggle to get our hands around them. And with so many experts out there in so many areas—parenting, addiction, mental health—it’s hard to know where to start.

            Enter The Mayo Lab Podcast with David Magee. This weekly program—kicking off February 28—will serve as a single source of research-based guidance for parents, educators, and students.

            “The problem has never been a lack of information,” asserts Magee, a national recovery advocate and author of the upcoming book Things Have Changed: What Every Parent (and Educator) Should Know About the Student Mental Health and Substance Misuse Crisis (Matt Holt, August 2023, ISBN: 978-1-6377439-6-6, $22.00). “It’s the opposite. There are so many voices coming from so many perspectives that parents and educators can’t process the message. We are forced to cobble together a patchwork quilt of solutions out of scattered, siloed resources.”

            This fragmented approach is far from ideal. That’s why Magee is partnering with the University of Mississippi’s Thomas Hayes Mayo Lab (named for an Ole Miss student who died at 21 from fentanyl poisoning) to produce the new podcast. It will curate and bring together the best thought leaders in various arenas so parents, educators, and students can access them in one place. 

            The Mayo Lab Podcast with David Magee, available at https://themayolab.com and on Apple and Spotify podcast platforms, will tackle tough yet necessary discussions on mental health and substance misuse among American teens and young adults. Magee and his guests—from the fields of mental health, drug misuse prevention, and parenting—will share research-based insights and guidance to equip parents, educators, and students to start a different conversation in their own lives. 

“Things Have Changed” by David Magee

          No one expects the podcast alone to turn the tide. It’s just one piece of the approach set forth by The Mayo Lab, a subsidiary of the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing. Other initiatives include Happiness Teams (specially trained Ole Miss students who use narrative storytelling to help college, high school, and middle school students cultivate joy in their lives, promote mental wellness, and increase social connections) and a Schools Program (which is in the process of developing a wellbeing curriculum for K-12 students to be used throughout the country). 

          This “upstream” approach is designed to reach students and parents during the crucial middle and high school years, when mental health struggles and substance use typically begin but before most crises occur. 

          “Our hope is to change the conversation on how we approach this crisis—across the many types of issues, ages of children, and kinds of individuals,” says Magee. “While most conversations focus on the ‘How do we make substance misuse stop?’ question, ours also focuses on the mindset that will replace it. That’s the joy piece. It’s just a more holistic approach.”

The Mayo Lab Podcast: The First Month

          The inaugural episode, which goes live on February 28, 2023, will feature guest Zac Clark, founder and CEO of Release Recovery, a substance use disorder and mental health organization based in New York that offers transitional living, case management, interventions, and other recovery and family support services. Zac is also the founding board member of the Release Recovery Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to remove financial barriers to treatment for underserved communities through DEI and LGBTQIA+ scholarships, to educate Americans about lifesaving tools like NARCAN, and to build community to break the stigma around addiction and mental health. In 2020, Zac received the final rose on ABC’s The Bachelorette and uses this platform to raise awareness about recovery. (NOTE: Click here to learn more about this podcast episode.)

            While the roster is still in development, here’s what the month of March looks like:


TOPIC: What Good Fraternity Culture Looks Like

GUEST: Adam Downs, Founder of What Good Looks Like (WGLL)


TOPIC: How Can Students Get and Stay Sober in High School?

GUEST: Travita Godfrey, Principal of Fortis Academy, Houston, Texas


TOPIC: Is Adderall Overprescribed?

GUEST: Sujith Ramachandran, Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Administration, University of Mississippi

 The Mayo Lab Podcast with David Magee, available at https://themayolab.com and on Apple and Spotify podcast platforms.

          Future topics will include teen sleep deprivation, the risks of marijuana use in teens, the harm wreaked by social media, the dangers of fentanyl, the struggles of teachers, and more.

            Interspersed with these episodes, every few weeks, Magee and his team will hold mini “recap” episodes. In them, they’ll discuss the topics explored in the previous full-length episodes and provide practical tips and tools parents and teachers can start putting into practice right away.

            Why does Magee pour so much of his heart and soul into this work? It’s because for him the subject is deeply personal. In 2013, he found the body of his firstborn son, William, after he died from an accidental drug overdose. (He shares this story in his award-winning book Dear William: A Father’s Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, Love, and Loss.) His other two children have also suffered the ravages of mental health disorders and substance misuse, and Magee himself has battled substance misuse prior to his recovery. 

            Since then, Magee has traveled the country, speaking to both parents and children as part of his work with The Mayo Lab. His experience, humility, and honesty allow him to engage both audiences in a way that gets heard and inspires positive change.

            “Life is much harder for our children than it was for us,” reflects Magee. “The problems of this generation feel too big for us to handle on our own. Our families, schools, and communities need help. We fervently hope that this podcast, and the other work being done by The Mayo Lab, will make a difference in a time when it is so desperately needed.”

About David Magee:

David Magee is the best-selling author of Things Have Changed: What Every Parent (and Educator) Should Know About the Student Mental Health and Substance Misuse Crisis and Dear William: A Father’s Memoir of Addiction, Recovery, Love, and Loss—a Publisher’s Weeklybestseller, named a Best Book of the South, and featured on CBS Mornings—and other nonfiction books. A changemaker in student and family mental health and substance misuse, he’s the creator and director of operations of the William Magee Institute for Student Wellbeing at the University of Mississippi and a frequent K–12 and university educational and motivational speaker, helping students and parents find and keep their joy. He hosts The Mayo Lab Podcast with David Magee, available at https://themayolab.com and on Apple and Spotify podcast platforms, a one-of-its-kind program for parents aimed at helping students and families find lasting wellbeing. He’s also a national recovery advisor for the Integrative Life Network. Learn more at www.daviddmagee.com.

Source: DeHart & Co.

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