Dr. Oh Eun-young of ‘My Golden Kids’ Puts Therapy on TV

SEOUL — Appointment day was lastly right here. The mother and father had waited for a month to see the famend psychiatrist in South Korea about their youngster’s points. They entered the room, the physician arrived, and the door closed.

Then the teleprompters turned on, the cameras began rolling, and the producer shouted, “Action!”

So started the taping of “My Golden Kids,” one of the most well-liked actuality reveals in South Korea. Reigning over the episode was Dr. Oh Eun-young, a specialist in youngster and adolescent psychiatry who has been referred to as the “god of parenting.”

Her mantra: “There is no problem child, only problems in parenting.”

In a rustic the place celeb is usually personified by younger megastars churned out by an exacting leisure trade, Dr. Oh, 57, occupies a singular cultural place. She attracts tens of millions of viewers on tv and the web, dishing out recommendation on parenting and marriage.

Through a portfolio of reveals — and books, movies and lectures — she has redefined remedy for Koreans, blown up the historically non-public relationship between physician and affected person and launched the nation to accessible vocabulary on psychological well being points.

“She is the mother that you wish that you would have had in your childhood,” mentioned Dr. Yesie Yoon, a Korean American psychiatrist in New York who grew up watching Dr. Oh’s reveals. “People really put their personal feelings toward popular figures in the media. And I feel like she’s serving a kind of good mother role to a lot of Korean people.”

Her success is all of the extra notable in a rustic the place taboos about in search of psychological well being remedy have deep roots and getting remedy has historically been a furtive enterprise.

South Koreans attest to Dr. Oh’s position in destigmatizing psychiatric remedy, and the truth that some are keen to share their struggles on her reveals is a watershed cultural second. Practitioners in Dr. Oh’s subject say it’s turning into simpler to influence South Koreans to get remedy or take treatment.

In South Korea, about one in 4 adults has reported having a psychological dysfunction in his or her lifetime, with just one in 55 receiving remedy in 2021, in line with the National Mental Health Center. (One in 5 American adults acquired psychological well being remedy in 2020, in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.) South Korea has among the many world’s highest suicide charges; it was the fifth main trigger of loss of life in 2020, the federal government says. Among individuals of their 20s, it accounted for 54 % of deaths.

When Dr. Oh began her profession as a medical physician in 1996, many South Koreans related psychological sickness with weak spot, she mentioned in an interview at a counseling heart within the rich Seoul district of Gangnam. Some even believed that folks might grow to be mentally in poor health from learning psychiatry. Over the years, these attitudes have reworked.

Tips for Parents to Help Their Struggling Teens

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Are you involved on your teen? If you are worried that your teen may be experiencing despair or suicidal ideas, there are some things you are able to do to assist. Dr. Christine Moutier, the chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suggests these steps:

Look for modifications. Notice shifts in sleeping and consuming habits in your teen, in addition to any points she or he may be having at college, equivalent to slipping grades. Watch for indignant outbursts, temper swings and a loss of curiosity in actions they used to like. Stay attuned to their social media posts as effectively.

Keep the strains of communication open. If you discover one thing uncommon, begin a dialog. But your youngster may not need to discuss. In that case, supply her or him assist in discovering a trusted individual to share their struggles with as a substitute.

Seek out skilled assist. A toddler who expresses suicidal ideas might profit from a psychological well being analysis and remedy. You can begin by talking together with your youngster’s pediatrician or a psychological well being skilled.

In an emergency: If you may have fast concern on your youngster’s security, don’t depart her or him alone. Call a suicide prevention lifeline. Lock up any probably deadly objects. Children who’re actively making an attempt to hurt themselves needs to be taken to the closest emergency room.

“Compared to when I took my first steps as a doctor,” she mentioned, “more people have realized that talking to a psychiatrist is something helpful — not something embarrassing at all.”

Dr. Yang Soyeong, a psychiatrist training in Seoul, agreed: “Parents can be afraid of having their mistakes pointed out by a psychiatrist. But because Dr. Oh does that so gently on television, I think that has lowered people’s apprehension for visiting the clinic.”

The United States has lengthy made stars out of one-name medical personalities like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, who’ve drawn criticism for his or her ways. Dr. Oh’s celeb has additionally spilled out of the medical area. In Seoul, a life-size cutout of her stands in entrance of a cell phone dealership promoting the provider’s household plans. She seems in TV commercials for a medical health insurance firm.

Dr. Oh, who runs one hospital and 4 counseling facilities, has been utilizing TV as a therapeutic platform since 2005, when she began her broadcast profession giving lectures about childhood developmental problems.

On “My Child Has Changed,” which aired from 2005 to 2015, every episode was devoted to a household’s issues. Dr. Oh entered their properties for counseling periods, and the takeaway from many episodes was that loads of youngsters’s issues had been attributable to parental abuse, lack of understanding or negligence.

In a signature flourish of the present, Dr. Oh would dispose of each object the mother and father used to beat their youngsters — again scratchers, umbrellas, shoehorns, damaged chair legs.

When “My Golden Kids” launched in 2020, the pandemic, with its social restrictions, was forcing individuals to confront family members’ issues full on. Rather than visiting herself, Dr. Oh now sends a digital camera crew into properties to report what transpires; clips are aired when households talk about points within the studio.

The issues proven have run the gamut: A 9-year-old yelling at his mom, a 5-year-old self-harming, a 12-year-old stealing from his mom, a 14-year-old having unexplained, continual vomiting.

Even with a household’s consent, the in-home cameras can really feel extremely intrusive. But giving a health care provider the prospect to evaluate household interactions in real-life settings, not the confines of a psychiatrist’s workplace, has diagnostic benefits, specialists say.

“It’s a child psychiatrist’s dream,” mentioned Dr. Yoon, the New York psychiatrist. “In my clinic, I only address and discuss the things that they bring to me. I may ask questions to dig deeper that they may not answer, and they may not answer truthfully.”

The present illustrates how a lot work the mother and father do in following by with the physician’s recommendation. It additionally reveals how change can take time, and the way previous points can resurface.

Since “My Golden Kids” started, Dr. Oh has expanded her TV empire to incorporate “Oh Eun-young’s Report: Marriage Hell,” wherein she counsels {couples}; and “Dr. Oh’s Golden Clinic,” wherein she advises people. She says she has a plan to sort out the nation’s low birthrate by easing individuals’s worry of having youngsters. She additionally hopes to function extra Korean households who reside overseas and encounter cultural and language limitations.

Dr. Oh was born untimely, and she or he mentioned the docs weren’t certain she would survive. Until she was about 2, she was smaller than her friends and had a “difficult temperament”: choosy with meals, usually sick and crying each night time. She attributes her consolation with herself as an grownup to her mother and father, saying she had “received a lot of love from them and felt understood by them.”

She acquired bachelor’s and grasp’s levels from Yonsei University’s College of Medicine, and a medical diploma from Korea University’s College of Medicine. She married a health care provider, and their son is within the navy.

“We were all someone’s children at some point,” she mentioned. “The point isn’t to blame parents for every problem but to emphasize that they are incredibly important figures in children’s lives.”

At a latest taping of “My Golden Kids,” a panel of comedians and celebrities appeared. They and Dr. Oh greeted the mother and father of a baby who had refused to attend college for months. Video of the household’s dwelling life was proven. The physician then shared her suggestions.

She has critics. Lee Yoon-kyoung, 51, an activist for schooling reform and parental rights and the mom of two excessive school-age sons, worries that Dr. Oh’s celeb may lead viewers to think about her phrases as gospel when there may be a number of interpretations of the identical habits.

“Of course, we acknowledge her expertise,” Ms. Lee mentioned, “but some parents get a bit uncomfortable when people deem her opinions unconditionally true, as if her words were divine.”

Some viewers have questioned the knowledge, in addition to the privateness implications, of placing yelling, hitting households on tv. On “My Golden Kids,” Dr. Oh doesn’t explicitly establish the kids, however faces usually are not obscured, and fogeys state their very own names and name their youngsters by title.

Videos of episodes have been uploaded to YouTube, producing humiliating feedback in regards to the households. Comments have since been turned off. But some mother and father and psychological well being professionals, noting that the web is without end, have demanded the present blur faces.

Dr. Oh says blurring might make it more durable for individuals to empathize, inviting extra abuse. Viewers, she mentioned, ought to think about the issues televised as all half of the human expertise. “The main reason I do these shows is that understanding children is the starting point of understanding people,” she mentioned.

Ban Su-jin, a 42-year-old mom of three from Incheon, had privateness considerations when she appeared on “My Golden Kids” in 2020 to seek the advice of a couple of son who feared leaving the home.

“My husband was worried that my son’s friends would make fun of him for having this problem,” she mentioned. But they agreed it was “worth risking anything.”

After the taping, she mentioned, her son’s anxiousness improved drastically. The episode drew some unfavourable messages, Ms. Ban mentioned, but additionally encouragement from mates and neighbors.

“The episode,” she mentioned, “helped them understand how much pain my son had borne.”


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