What is stress?

A physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation

3 Types of Stress

Eustress: bursts of energy that helps get things done; loss of car keys

Distress: Occurs for short time, takes over life, causes disruption

Traumatic Stress: Result of catastrophic event; change in reality and beliefs

What stress looks like:

Emotionally

  • Anxiety/Fear
  • Overwhelmed with sadness
  • Angry
  • Too much or not enough energy
  • Disconnected; not caring about anything or anyone
  • Numb

Physically

  • Stomach aches/diarrhea
  • Headaches or other physical pains for no reason
  • Eating too much or too little
  • Sweating; having chills
  • Tremors or muscle twitches
  • Jumpy; easily startled

Behaviorally

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Increase or decrease in activity levels
  • Frequent crying
  • Using alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs or prescription medication
  • Outbursts of anger
  • Trouble remembering things
  • Lack of concentration
  • Feeling confused
  • Worrying a lot 
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Difficulty listening to others

Tools

  • Brief Relaxation Techniques throughout the workday
  • Stay aware of limitations and needs (set boundaries)
  • Take appropriate self-care measures (take moments for yourself)
  • Increase positive activities (take a walk outside, journal, etc.)
  • Connect with others
  • Practice religious faith, philosophy, or spirituality
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Learn to “put away” stress
  • Writing, drawing, painting
  • Limit caffeine, tobacco, and substance use
  • Stay informed, but limit media exposure; even social media

Know when to seek help

  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • When symptoms last longer than 4 weeks or become severe
  • Thoughts of harming self or others

Information provided by DBHDD

HOPE is Here

If you’re struggling with stress or would like to refer someone you know, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

 Child Abuse Prevention  

According to the Children’s Bureau 2019 Maltreatment Report, approximately 2 million children received prevention services in 2019. Approximately 1.3 million children received post-response services (such as family preservation, family support, or foster care) because of needs discovered during an investigation or alternative response.

During Federal fiscal year 2019, fewer than one-quarter (22.9 percent) of confirmed maltreatment victims were removed from their homes because of an investigation or alternative response. Child maltreatment has significantly increased since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

At least 1 out 7 children is a victim of child abuse. The COVID-19 pandemic brought isolation for families across the state of Georgia. This makes it harder for people to recognize and report child neglect.The Georgia Division of Family and Child Services reports the number of child neglect and abuse reports dropped significantly when the pandemic began.  Unfortunately due to the pandemic child abuse may go unreported. Now, the numbers are starting to go back up.

What are the signs to look for?

According to the Child Welfare, signs of child abuse or neglect may include: withdrawal from friends or usual activities,changes in behavior such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity or changes in school performance. Children may show signs of depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence.An apparent lack of supervision.Frequent absences from school. It is also important to recognize that some children may not exhibit any of these signs, if they are being coached by their parents or guardian. 

How can you help? 

When reporting child abuse or neglect remember that it is not your job to investigate before reporting.If you suspect child abuse or neglect, you can make a report to your local Department of Family and Children Services office. You can make a report via phone, email, online or by fax. To make a report by phone you can call Centralized Intake at 1-855-422-4453. A report can be made 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. To make a report online you can email the completed Mandated Report attached to CPSIntake@DHS.GA.GOV. You will receive an auto-reply stating that the CPS report has been received. You can fax the completed Mandated Report to 229-317-9663. Faxed reports convert to a PDF (Adobe) format and are automatically forwarded to the CPSIntake@DHS.GA.GOV e-mail box.If you are a mandated reporter, you may also submit a child abuse referral online by visiting https://cps.dhs.ga.gov/Main/Default.aspx.

HOPE is Here

If you know someone who is struggling with child abuse and would like to refer someone you know, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

What is alcohol use disorder?

  • A chronic disease characterized by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. 
  • Symptoms include a strong need or urge to use alcohol. Those with alcohol use disorder may have problems controlling their drinking, continue to use alcohol even when it causes problems, or have withdrawal symptoms when they rapidly decrease or stop drinking.

What can be done to prevent alcohol misuse?

  • Parents and guardians play an important role in giving kids a better understanding of the impact that alcohol can have on their lives. Not only are conversations important, but it is equally important for guardians to know the risk and protective factors for adolescent alcohol use and misuse.  Check out the free resources on the SAMHSA website for parents. https://www.samhsa.gov/underage-drinking/parent-resources and https://www.samhsa.gov/prevention-week
  • It is also important for all adults to understand safe drinking behaviors. NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent – or 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter – or higher. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours. SAMHSA defines heavy alcohol use as binge drinking on 5 or more days in the past month. Knowing U.S. standard drink (or alcoholic drink-equivalent) sizes and the number of drinks per container can help you make informed decisions about your drinking. You’ll be able to: count drinks more accurately, pace yourself better, and stay within low-risk drinking levels. Check out these two websites to better understand your drinking patterns and learn all about standard drinks. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Tools/Calculators/drink-size-calculator.aspx
  • Alcohol consumption has increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic, most notably from stress, anxiety and isolation. Research has found that binge drinking, especially among women, has increased. Initially, Covid-19 restrictions prevented people from attending counseling and 12-step meetings; however, both are now extremely prevalent via telehealth and online platforms. Most U.S. States deemed liquor stores as “essential businesses” which sent the message to Americans that drinking alcohol is an essential coping mechanism. It is important for people to know how they can relieve stress without alcohol and develop healthy coping strategies such as: going for a walk, reading a book, doing a project around the house, establishing a social support, having a spiritual practice, and developing a healthy routine of adequate sleep, eating nutritious meals and getting exercise.  (source: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/more-americans-are-binge-drinking-during-pandemic-how-to-cope-without-alcohol)

If you or a loved one has alcohol use disorder, treatment is essential. 

  • Treatment involves counseling, such as behavioral therapy, and medications that reduce the desire to drink. Some people need medical detoxification to stop drinking safely. Mutual support groups help people stop drinking, manage relapses and cope with necessary lifestyle changes.
  • To learn about best practices in substance use treatment, visit https://www.shatterproof.org/find-help/types-of-addiction-treatment
  • Georgia HOPE can help and we provide HIPPA compliant online therapy. Visit our website at www.gahope.org to learn more and make a referral

HOPE is Here

If you’re struggling with alcohol use disorders or would like to refer someone you know, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

So, what are adjustment disorders?


Adjustment disorders are characterized by mild to moderate impairment and can often be felt as depression and/ or anxiety, feeling hopeless, crying, worrying also more physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches. In children and adolescents these symptoms can also include acting out, being more clingy and more irritable moods. This commonly occurs within 3 months of a stressor like losing a job, moving, getting married, divorce, having a baby etc. This disorder usually lasts no longer than about 6 months once the stressor has ceased.


When should I seek treatment?


When symptoms last longer than 6 months and/or your symptoms become more problematic and debilitating such as longer lasting depression and anxiety not enjoying things that you used to like doing and isolating more it is time to seek services such as therapy and possible medication. Please seek immediate help if you are feeling suicidal.

HOPE is Here

If you’re struggling with adjustment disorders or would like to refer someone you know, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

PTSD also known as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological disorder that happens when one has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Traumatic events include: a serious accident, war/combat, rape, natural disaster, a terrorist act, threatened with death, sexual violence, or serious injury.  

There are four main categories for PTSD symptoms, however, they can vary in severity:

  1. Intrusive thoughts like flashbacks, repeated, involuntary memories, stressful dreams. These can happen and make one feel as though they are re-living the event.
  2. Avoiding people, situations, objects, and places that remind one of the traumatic event. The avoidance can be so profound that one will resist thinking or even talking about it.
  3. Thoughts and mood will be distorted and often hard to remember that may be important aspects of the traumatic event. These distortions can make it difficult for one to experience positive emotions, have any interest in previously enjoyed activities, or feel detached from others.
  4. Distortions in reactivity and arousal such as irritability and anger outbursts, acting in self-destructive ways, being suspicious of one’s surroundings, easily startled, or difficulty sleeping or concentrating.

Information found and provided by:

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/ptsd/what-is-ptsd

School Intervention:

Dr. Sheryl Kataoka provided an intervention for teachers, school staff and adults to help children and students that experience PTSD symptoms while at school. This intervention is a part of Psychological First Aid for Schools.

Step 1: Listen

During step one, teachers or adult school staff should provide students with an opportunity to share their experiences and express feelings of worry, anxiety, fear or other concerns about their safety. Speaking with students can occur one-on-one if a teacher and student find themselves in a relatively private place to talk. The adult should convey interest, empathy and availability, and let students know they are ready to listen. The teacher can open the discussion by acknowledging what has happened and letting students know that it is not only acceptable to share their experiences and establishing that the school is a safe place to do this.

Adults should avoid making judgments and predictions, such as “You’ll get over it,” or “Only the strong survive.” It is important to validate the students’ life experiences without probing students for more details than they are willing to share. Forcing students to go over their experiences in too much detail, especially immediately after the crisis, can re-traumatize the student and may cause more emotional and psychological distress to themselves and to others who may hear additional details about the event.

Step 2: Protect

For this second step, adults should try to reestablish students’ feelings of both physical and emotional safety. They can honestly inform students about events surrounding the crisis, such as sharing with them information about what is being done in the community and school to keep everyone safe. This information should be provided in a developmentally and age-appropriate manner. In the classroom, or around school, adults should maintain structure, stability and predictability, and make efforts to reestablish routines, expectations and rules. For example, bell schedules should return to normal as soon as possible. If shortened days are required, keep them to a minimum. Traumatized students may experience more confusion when disruption comes to their school routines, including after school activities, by too many changes to their regular schedules. Concerns about separation from parents or caregivers are frequently children’s paramount concern. Parents can help stabilize children’s reactions by resuming mealtime, homework, and bedtime routines as well as community or church activities disrupted by the crisis or emergency. It is also important at this phase to protect students from further physical harm or psychological trauma which can occur through their viewing or hearing repetitive media reports on the incident or through bullying by peers at school.

Step 3: Connect

One of the most common reactions to trauma or fear is emotional and social isolation and the sense of loss of social supports. It can occur automatically, without students or adults realizing that they are withdrawing from their teachers or peers, respectively. The third step is to help students reestablish their normal social relationships and stay connected to others in order to experience social support. Restoring and building connections promotes stability, recovery and predictability in students’ lives. A student’s classroom and school is a safe place to begin restoring normalcy during a crisis or disaster. Through the eyes of children, adults can identify the “systems of care” that are part of their everyday life, move from beyond the classroom and school to the family and then to other community anchors including preexisting faith and cultural supports. This objective serves to help students reconstitute the relationships between the key community systems or “anchors” in their lives. Teachers or other school staff that reach out and check in with students on a regular basis can do this reconstitution, sometimes several times a day Students also can be encouraged to interact, share “recovery” activities and take on team projects with other students, friends or teachers. With this type of interaction, students feel the caring and consistent support of adults in their lives, even during a difficult time of coping.

Step 4: Model Calm and Optimistic Behavior

Adults can model calm and optimistic behavior in many ways, including the following:

  • Maintain level emotions • and reactions with students to help them achieve balance
  • Take constructive actions to assure student safety, such as engaging in a safety drill to remind them of how to stay safe, or planning a project that improves the physical or social climate of the school
  • Express positive thoughts for the future, like “Recovery from this disaster may take some time, but we’ll work on improving the conditions at our school every day;” and
  • Help students to cope with day-to-day challenges by thinking aloud with them about ways they can solve their problems.

Step 5: Teach

To support and facilitate the coping process, it is important to help students understand the range of normal stress reactions. School counselors, nurses, psychologists or social workers can take on this task. They can help students become familiar with the range of normal reactions that can occur immediately after a traumatic event or disaster and teach relevant coping and problem-solving skills.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3287974/

HOPE is Here

If you’re struggling with PTSD or would like to refer a student or someone you know, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

Despite being a high-risk group for depression, a lot of older adults find it hard to ask for help from their loved ones. This is especially troubling, as the older adult age group is seeing rising suicide rates. The reason why so many older adults succumb to depression is that many still believe the stigma surrounding depression and are afraid of burdening their families with their condition. For this reason alone, caregivers looking after older adults need to do all they can to help their loved ones understand that depression is anormal part of life and aging.

In this post, we’ll discuss how you can help older adults who are suffering from depression.


Be Quick to Recognize the Symptoms


It can be difficult to recognize the signs and symptoms of depression in older adults because they may be different from what we usually see in younger folks. For instance, some older adults who suffer from depression don’t have sadness as their main symptom. Instead, they may exhibit less obvious symptoms such as loss of focus or a sudden disinterest in hobbies. Another reason why it can be hard to determine if an older loved one has depression is that it can sometimes look like other prevalent conditions in the age group such as Alzheimer’s disease. In order to help an older adult gain a better grasp over their depression, you should be aware of the common signs and symptoms such
as:

  • Feelings of despair or sadness
  • Weight changes
  • Memory problems
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Chronic fatigue and demotivation
  • Forgoing basic self-care

Encourage Them to Seek Professional Help


The core concept of depression prevents a person from wanting or being able to seek help, as this condition impacts their self-esteem and drains their energy. As such, one of your main goals when helping an loved one deal with their condition should be to encourage them to seek treatment and open up to mental health professionals. But as we’ve mentioned, a great deal of stigma is associated with mental health issues, making it difficult to convince a loved one to seek help. Thankfully, there are a myriad of mental health professionals who can help your loved one manage their depression. For one, you can employ the services of a local counselor. Counselors are tasked with helping individuals explore their feelings, acknowledge them, and eventually accept them. In addition, counselors can also help older adults find healthy coping mechanisms and self-care techniques.

You can also approach nurses who specialize in mental health to help them come to terms with their depression. As an increasingly popular career in the nursing field, nursing specialists who focus on mental health can assess, diagnose mental health disorders, and recommend necessary treatments. There are also some gerontology-focused nurses who, on top of assisting them with mental health care, can also help them cope with Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and more. You can find them in hospitals, hospice centers, and extended-care facilities.

Support Them as Much as You Can


You should do whatever you can to show an older loved one that you’re willing to go through this process with them. There are many ways to show your support. For example, simply showing that you’re willing to listen can help raise their spirits. Always remember to avoid judgmental responses and thank them for being open with you. In addition, ensuring that they stick to their treatment plan is also another way to show support. Older adults may have difficulty remembering to take their medications and keeping their appointments, so take it upon yourself to remind them whenever you can.


Helping older adults manage their depression can help them make the most of their later years in life. For more posts about mental health, be sure to visit our blog or contact us today.

written for gahope.org
by Rhia Jade

Consistently performing healthy behaviors to start your day can create an overall calmer morning and improve mental health. Establishing routines filled with healthy habits can help you move more efficiently while using less mental energy, which decreases stress and anxiety. If you don’t already have a clear morning routine set into place, try following this list to start 2021 off right. 

  1. Be Prepared 

In order to start the day with a healthy morning routine, you should prepare the night before. Your nighttime routine will play a role in how well you sleep based on factors like sleep hygiene and environment, but it will also help you to be prepared for the next day as it can decrease stress, over-thinking, and worry, which keep you awake at night. 

Before going to bed, prepare the items you plan to use in the morning. For example, lay out your clothes, make sure bags are packed, and set-up coffee and meals. This will allow you to sleep soundly and be prepared for the day ahead. 

If it makes you feel even more secure, keep a check-list on your bedside table to remind you of the things you should accomplish before bed and when you wake up. 

  1. Wake Up To Light  

Rising with the sun increases wakefulness as exposure to bright light decreases morning grogginess. If possible, leave your blinds open while you sleep so you can get maximum exposure to sunlight in the morning. 

If that’s not an option, consider using a smart light, which gently wakes you with a custom Sunrise Alarm that supports healthy cortisol levels and allows you to create a positive mood at any time with a selection of soothing sounds and lights. This can be especially helpful in the winter months when it’s dark more often and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is more common. 

  1. Avoid Technology 

Technology should be avoided first thing in the morning. Although electronics are extremely useful in many ways, they can be harmful to your well-being if used too often. 

Electronic devices emanate blue light, which is a high-energy visible (HEV) light that can cause eye and mental health complications. Therefore, if you use electronic devices early in the morning they can cause headaches, lack of concentration, or distract you from completing your morning routine. Social media has been proven to add to anxiety and depression, which is all the more reason to reduce time on electronic devices in your morning routine

If you prefer to use devices early in the morning, there are ways you can protect yourself from the blue light they emit. 

  1. Use the Night Shift mode on your devices to alter the screen brightness and temperature, which can decrease the amount and harshness of the blue light that comes from screens. Night Shift uses the clock and geolocation of your device to determine when the sun is rising in your location, so it can automatically adjust your screen temperature. 
  1. Protect your eyes more directly with a pair of blue light glasses, which filter out harmful blue light while still letting in the more natural light from your screens. Wearing these glasses throughout the entire day will further protect your eyes and prevent devices from disrupting your sleep patterns and causing disorientation if you use them frequently. 

By combining the Night Shift mode with the blue light glasses, very little blue light will penetrate your retinas and you will be mentally healthier and happier. 

A morning routine can help individuals set themselves up for better mental health throughout the day. Create your morning routine based on your specific needs and activities. Not everyone will have the same routine—it’s about what works best for you and your mental health. 

As always, HOPE is here.

Georgia HOPE specializes in providing quality mental health and recovery services for in the state of Georgia. To learn more, enroll, or refer someone to us, contact us below:

Is it stress? Is it anxiety? Is it both?

Anxiety generally is internal, meaning it’s your reaction to stress. Usually it involves a persistent feeling of uneasiness or dread that doesn’t go away, and that interferes with how you live your life. It is constant, even if there is no immediate threat.

Stress generally is a response to an external cause, such as interviewing for a new job or arguing with a friend. It goes away once the situation is resolved. It can be positive or negative. For example, it may inspire you to study for a test, or it may cause you to lose sleep.

Both stress and anxiety can affect your mind and body. You may experience symptoms such as:

  • Excessive worry
  • Apprehension
  • Tension headaches or body pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of sleep

Ways to Cope

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise or do some sort of physical activity
  • Create a sleep routine to get regular sleep
  • Avoid excess caffeine and alcohol
  • Identify and challenge your negative thoughts
  • Keep a journal or download a relaxation / mediation app
  • Reach out to friends and family
  • Speak to a professional

HOPE is Here

If you’re struggling to cope or the symptoms of your stress or anxiety begin to interfere with your everyday life, it may be time to talk to a professional. We’d love to speak to you further and find something that works for you. HOPE is here. Contact us today.

COVID-19 has changed our world. These changes can be challenging for many and in some cases can impact overall
functioning at home, school, or both for children and teens. 

Below are some questions to ask yourself about how well students in your class are adjusting to these new changes.

If you selected at least one of the items on this checklist, the student could benefit from mental health services. Make a referral by completing our online enrollment form.

Teachers aren’t immune to all of these difficult changes. HOPE is here for you too! Affordable self-pay rates are available. Call 706-279-0405 ext 149, email inquiries@gahope.org, or contact us online to learn more or get started today,

Who is ready for a new year? Bring on 2021! 

Here are some important things to keep in mind in order to stay safe on New Year’s Eve 

  • Know what binge drinking is: a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 percent. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours. 
  • Know why it is important: Knowing U.S. standard drink (or alcoholic drink-equivalent) sizes and the number of drinks per container can help you make informed decisions about your drinking. You’ll be able to: count your drinks more accurately, pace yourself better and stay within low-risk drinking levels 
  • For Parents: Remember, those who host the most, lose the most. Know the laws on providing alcohol to minors and the importance of having conversations with your teens about alcohol consumption.  

For more information on binge drinking and monitoring your drinking, visit the following links: https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/moderate-binge-drinking 

For more information on what is considered a standard drink of whatever you might be drinking, visit this website for the standard drink calculator: https://www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov/Tools/Calculators/drink-size-calculator.aspx