Autumn

School Based Mental Health therapist in Catoosa County

What is your role at Georgia HOPE?

I am a school base therapist at a few elementary schools in Catoosa County, helping give tools to the kids who are experiencing struggles that they cannot fully handle on their own. 

What led you to Georgia HOPE?

I first learned of Georgia Hope during my undergrad internship with Catoosa County Public Schools, and loved seeing how the therapist at the school was a part of the community there. 

What would you say to teacher or school admin to help a distressed student in the classroom?

When a child in the school is escalated and the teachers or admins are trying to help calm the child down, I would tell them to stay as calm and patient as possible and listen to what the child is saying to figure out what has triggered them. If possible, take them out of the room away from possible stimuli and talk with them. 

What do you enjoy most about your role at Georgia HOPE?

I really enjoy the communities that schools have and being able to work with the children. They make me smile and give me new perspectives all the time.

Kathi

Field Service Liaison, Family Service Specialist and Parent Aid

What is your role at Georgia HOPE?:

I am a therapi

My role at Georgia HOPE is an FSL and FSS and PA.

I lead and train a group of amazing contractors and review their notes to assure that we are ready for billing and have as few errors so DFCS has no reason to bump them back to us. I enjoy sending occasional awards to my contractors that are doing an exceptional job or who have made some great improvements!!  Praise is the best way of encouraging excellence.

What led you to Georgia HOPE?:

I came to Georgia HOI came to Georgia HOPE via Focus Counseling.  I arrived at Focus because of my working relationship with a former colleague   at Goshen Valley boys ranch.  I served as a house parent there for over 7 years.  When I stepped away from house parenting I wanted to be able to continue working with foster families but in a different capacity.  Living with 6 foster boys 24/7 can wear you down.  Lol

What would you say to someone that is struggling with adjusting to foster care?:

I had many kids come to me through the years struggling with being in care.  I would always assure them that everyone connected to their casa wants nothing more than to get them back home with their family.  But until that is possible we just want them to be able to be in a home with people who will love and support them while they are waiting.  I assure them that everyone is helping their parents do all they need to do so that when they are able to return… their home will be a safe and happy place for them.

Honestly, I love every aspect of my job.  Working with the bio parents and  encouraging them that they can succeed.  Working with these precious kids and just loving them and building relationships with them.

What do you enjoy most about your role at Georgia HOPE?:

Teaching parenting and giving a skill set to parents so they are not overwhelmed and equipping them to be the best parents they can be.

Teaching/training and supporting team members so that they can be the best at what they do because when we succeed the families we serve have a better chance to succeed!!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this company!!

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

The week of May 2nd-8th is Screen-Free Week, this means that you take a break from all technology including the TV! The purpose of a screen-free week is to reinstate the joy of life outside of technology. 

Why is screen-free time important? This is because too much screen time can have harmful effects on children’s development. Here are some negative effects screen time can have: 

  • Children are rapidly learning the language at ages 1.5 to 3 years old. Studies show that these children learn better from a person than from a television show. Statistics have shown that those children who watched more tv than adult interactions performed less on reading tests in Elementary school. 
  • For children three or young, screen time can take away a crucial part of their development by limiting their exposed experiences and observations of the real world.
  • Premature thinning of the cortex in the brain using technology seven or more hours a day. This region is essential for cognitive functioning and is not supposed to start thinning until later development. 
  • Screens also impact the circadian rhythm and the production of melatonin. This is due to the blue light screen inhibiting melatonin production, decreasing sleep. 

What parental controls can be in place for safe screen time?

  • Watch TV shows with your child and add comments along the way to add personal commentary to help enable learning
  • Choose media-appropriate apps for your child
  • Keep meal-time, family time, and bedtime a screen-free space
  • Limit your own screen time because your child will modal after you
  • Set clear boundaries with all types of technology
  • Set specific time limits 
  • Plan ahead with consequences if technology rules are broken

Start today with monitoring and limiting technology use for you and your children. Challenge your family to participate in Screen-Free week May 2nd-8th 

Resources 

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Connected and content: Managing healthy technology use. American Psychological Association. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.apa.org/topics/social-media-internet/healthy-technology-use

Coping with screens: 12 tips for balancing children’s mental health and technology use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Children and Screens. (n.d.). Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://www.childrenandscreens.com/media/press-releases/coping-with-screens-12-tips-for-balancing-childrens-mental-health-and-technology-use-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Save this to read later. Send to email 11 Min Read •Children’s Health. (2021, November 3). What does too much screen time do to kids’ brains? NewYork-Presbyterian. Retrieved April 27, 2022, from https://healthmatters.nyp.org/what-does-too-much-screen-time-do-to-childrens-brains/

By: Hailey Robertson

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness that severely impacts individuals’ ability to regulate their emotions. This disorder is marked by instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. 

In the United States, Borderline Personality Disorder is only present in 1.6% of the general population and 20% in the inpatient psychiatric population. 

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorders include: 

  • Wide mood swings that last hours to a few days, this can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values
  • Intense fear of abandonment, even taking extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
  • A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person does not care enough
  • Impulsive and risk-taking behaviors 
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Intense anger, losing temper, sarcastic, or having physical fights
  • Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection 

If you or someone you know has symptoms or a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder here are resources for help:

  • Psychiatrist – A psychiatrist can help with diagnosing and providing medication that may be needed for treatment
  • Therapist- A Therapist can help you understand the diagnosis and help you process your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. 
  • Client Support Specialist- A Client Support Specialist can help support you through treatment and equip you with the skills necessary for everyday life. 

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, July 17). Borderline personality disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Borderline personality disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Personality Disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/personality-disorders

By: Hailey Robertson

Postpartum Depression is defined as a severe, long-lasting form of depression after the birth of a baby. 

Most new mothers experience a form of postpartum called “baby blues” that last typically one to two weeks after the baby is born. Postpartum depression is a more severe form of the “baby blues” with more severe and long-lasting symptoms.

Baby Blues symptoms:               vs.              Postpartum Depression symptoms:

  • Mood swings                               
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling Overwhelmed 
  • Crying 
  • Reduced Concentration
  • Appetite Problems

Postpartum Depression is not limited to just mothers; fathers can also develop postpartum depression, especially new fathers. The symptoms present the same as they do in mothers. 

Risk factors for Postpartum Depression for men: 

  • Young
  • History of Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Struggling financially 

Postpartum Anxiety commonly occurs alongside Postpartum Depression. But Postpartum Anxiety comes with its distinct symptoms. 

Postpartum Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Cannot feel relaxed
  • A constant sense of worry
  • Constant thoughts that something terrible will happen to the baby
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Dizziness or nausea 

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Treatment

Postpartum Depression or Anxiety can be treated through various options: 

  • Reach out to medical provider with PPD or PPA concerns
  • Seek professional through Mental Health providers for Therapy or support from a Client Support Specialist

Resources 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, September 1). Postpartum depression. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617 

By: Megan Eckles

The Facts:

  • Over 24 million Americans, or 7.3% of the U.S. population, are considered Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI; NAMI, 2022)
  • APPI encompasses 50 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages, with connections to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, and other Asian and Pacific Islander ancestries.

Barriers to Mental Health: 

  • Asian Americans do not access mental health treatment as much as other racial/ethnic groups do, perhaps due to strong stigma related to mental illness. Emotional problems are viewed as shameful and distressing which may limit help-seeking behaviors. Asian Americans with mental health problems tend to rely on family to handle problems. (Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education, 2022).
  • Some AAPIs do not seek help due to fear of immigration laws and possible deportation (NAMI, 2022). 
  • The is the lack of competent care for those in the community. 
  • Language barriers, roughly 32.6% AAPIs are not fluent in English, and those over 65 make up 60% of that (NAMI, 2022).

Seeking Culturally Competent Care:

Culturally competent care means to understand a person’s values, experiences and personal beliefs, while making strides to provide services that support their goals and are in alignment with their cultural values. 

Ways to provide/find culturally competent care:

  • The Asian Mental Health Collective connects AAPI clients with AAPI therapists
  • Asian American Psychological Association offers a Graduate Leadership Institute (GLI), which offers students a deeper understanding about the AAPI community, and self in relation to the community
  • According to NAMI (2022), traditional/non-western medicine or indigenous healing practices, which often emphasize the integration of mind and body in maintaining health and promoting healing, remain popular forms of mental health intervention in some AAPI communities. These practices include, but are not limited to:
    • Traditional Chinese medicine
    • Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India)
    • Japanese herbal medicine
    • Tibetan medicine
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage therapy
    • Folk nutritional therapy
    • Energy healing exercises (such as tai chi and qi gong)
    • Guided meditation
    • Spiritual healing

How to Help:

Asian LifeNet Hotline provides help with suicide for AAPI. They provide services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Fujianese. 1-877-990-8585

Resources:

https://aaspe.net/index.html

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/Asian-American-and-Pacific-Islander

By: Hailey Robertson

The top 3 mental health diagnoses in women are Anxiety, Depression, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

  1. Anxiety and other specific phobias: women are twice as likely to have a panic disorder, generalized anxiety, and specific phobias than men. 
  2. Depression: Women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression. 
  3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with PTSD following a traumatic event than men. 

What is Anxiety?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder is marked by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events for no obvious reason. 

Symptoms include: feeling restless, easily fatigued, irritability, constant feelings of worry, etc. 

  • 1 in 5 women develop anxiety in the United States

What is Depression? 

Major Depressive Disorder is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. 

Symptoms include: feelings of sadness, hopelessness, angry outbursts, loss of interest, sleep disturbances, lack of energy, reduced appetite, trouble thinking, etc.

  • 1 in 8 women develop depression in the United States

What is PTSD? 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that is triggered by a traumatic event. 

Symptoms include: recurrent unwanted distressing memories, reliving traumatic events, upsetting dreams or nightmares, severe emotional distress, etc.

  • 10% of women have PTSD sometime in their lives

Resources for help:

-Psychiatry: A psychiatrist can allow you to get the medications needed to treat your disorder.

-Therapy: A therapist can allow you to process your diagnoses and receive techniques available to use for treatment 

-Support: A Client Support Specialist can allow you to build skills needed to help reduce the effects of your disorder

Resources

3 most common mental health disorders in America. Access Community Health Network. (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.achn.net/about-access/whats-new/health-resources/3-most-common-mental-health-disorders-in-america/

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 26, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/

By: Kristin Trammell (Therapist/Training Specialist)

Today, war and large tragedies may be happening over 1,000 miles away, but with the common use of cell phones and social media the war and other tragedies’ impact can feel much closer to home. Many times, people with social media or access to live-feed news sources can constantly seek updates or monitor various situations. This compulsive behavior of constantly checking and monitoring is called doomscrolling. Doomscrolling initially can serve as a coping mechanism, because having constant information can help people feel reassured or feel a sense of control in uncertain situations (Liu, 2022). Although doomscrolling is a coping mechanism, it can quickly become unhealthy and become a barrier to mental health due to the access it provides to images, content, sounds, and stories regarding violence, war, and tragedy. It is not uncommon now to see videos and hear stories of families being separated, of bombings/shelling, and of people being critically injured, dying, or dead. Unfortunately, these events occur often throughout the world, but have become more prevalently witnessed due to the usage of cell phones and social media. 

Vicarious Trauma:

Witnessing war, violence, and other tragedies through secondary sources, such as television and social media, can lead to symptoms relating to vicarious trauma. Vicarious trauma, otherwise known as secondary trauma, has historically been discussed as what people in helping professions can experience when serving others with first-hand trauma, but with the high intake of online content regarding trauma events, others can experience vicarious trauma, as well (Vicarious Trauma, 2022). Vicarious trauma means that people who witness or hear about the trauma secondhand can experience traumatic effects or stress responses. It is important to note that children, adolescents, and adults all can experience vicarious trauma, but symptoms may present differently according to age. 

Symptoms of Vicarious Trauma:

Children and adolescents can often experience stomach aches or headaches, changes in sleep patterns and appetite, increased emotional reactions, such as tantrums or feeling more irritable or sad, as well as experiencing changes in interests or avoidance of others (Torres, 2022).

Adults can often experience a change in worldview, distressing intrusive thoughts or images, increased feelings of sadness, irritability, or hopelessness/helplessness, difficulty at work and with relationships, as well as changes in sleep patterns and appetite (Torres, 2022). 

Coping with Vicarious Trauma: 

For children and adolescents with vicarious trauma, we want to limit access to content that continuously presents war, violence, and tragic events. We then want to be open and curious in helping them understand events and their related reactions. It is okay to ask questions regarding if something is upsetting them. We can then validate and normalize the child’s feelings regarding traumatic events. We let them know that it is okay to be scared, concerned, sad, or angry and assure them that they can talk with a safe adult whenever they have questions. We can also search for ways to increase hope and resiliency with the child by exploring ways they can help others, no matter how small. It is also important to discuss how the child is currently safe, if they are concerned about their own safety. 

For adults with vicarious trauma, it is important to also limit access to content that continuously presents war, violence, and tragic events. For peers who are experiencing vicarious trauma, we want to provide support to them by offering a judgement free, listening ear. We want to validate their feelings and ask if there is a way we can help them through this time. We can offer a snack, a break, or a change in schedule, if needed. If we are the ones experiencing vicarious trauma, we want to step back and remind ourselves that it is okay to feel confused or upset and it is okay if we need time to take a break to gather ourselves. It is okay to ask for help from safe individuals. It is also helpful to remember that the basics go a long way; ensuring that we eat well, drink water, and practice healthy sleeping habits. 

If you, a friend, coworker, or a loved one are experiencing distress that hinders day to day tasks or are having difficulty managing strong emotions and intrusive thoughts, seeking professional help through counseling, peer support, or skills building is recommended and can be beneficial in the path to healing. If you would like further information in seeking help, go to https://gahope.org/ or call 706-279-0405. 

References

Joyful Heart Foundation. (2022). Vicarious trauma. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/learn/vicarious-trauma 

Liu, J. (2022, March 3). How to stop Doomscrolling when tragedy strikes-and what you could focus on instead. CNBC. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.cnbc.com/2022/02/25/how-to-stop-doomscrolling-when-tragedy-strikeswhat-you-could-focus-on-instead.html 

Torres, C. (n.d.). Psychologist offers mental health advice for kids, adults amid Ukraine-russia war. https://www.wbay.com. Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.wbay.com/2022/03/21/psychologist-offers-mental-health-advice-kids-adults-amid-ukraine-russia-war/ 

By: Kristin Trammell (Therapist/Training Specialist)

Taking prescriptions for mental health needs is a very common practice in America. While medication may not solve or be a complete cure, it can help give people a leg up in being able to regulate themselves and cope with stressors. Medication, however, can only be as effective as we help it to be; meaning that we want to take it regularly, timely, and want to avoid foods, drinks, or activities that may contraindicate the medication’s effectiveness. 

Experiencing mental health difficulties can be a barrier in taking medication regularly and as prescribed. Often times people may not take their medication as they should due to forgetfulness, stigma, denial that they need it for their health, lack of understanding, expense, side effects, or feeling like they do not need it anymore. 

Here are a few tips in maintaining medication adherence to enable further mental health recovery:

  1. Be honest with your doctor about concerns of the medication regarding side effects, necessity of the prescription, or if you feel you do not need it any longer. 
  2. Seek payment assistance for prescriptions through local medbanks or non-profit programs, such as Salvation Army. Utilize non-profit pharmacies, such as Good Pill Pharmacy, https://www.goodpill.org/, and discount programs, such as GoodRX, https://www.goodrx.com/.
  3. Set an alarm on your phone, watch, or clock, or set a reminder in your schedule/calendar each day at the same to ensure you take the medication on time every day.
  4. Eat healthy foods and limit foods that can contraindicate the medication. Two foods that can contribute to anxiety and depression are sugar and caffeine, so it is a good idea to limit or avoid these. 
  5. Exercise daily: Go for a walk, complete a chore, lift weights, stretch, play with your pet or child. Anything to help us get moving is a good place to start! Exercising can help trigger pleasure and happy chemicals in the brain that can have a positive impact on overall mood and health. 
  6. Be honest with your doctor or therapist regarding possible stigma of taking prescriptions for mental health. Remind yourself mental health prescriptions are a resource to assist you in coping, and taking them does not mean there is something wrong with you. Many people in America take some type of medication for physical or mental health every day. Our brains and bodies operate with chemicals and electrical impulses, and sometimes these chemicals can become imbalanced, which medication can support us in balancing out chemicals within the body to help our overall health. 

References

Chisholm-Burns MA, Spivey CA. The cost of medication nonadherence: Consequences we cannot afford to accept. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2012;52(6):823-826.

Jimmy B, Jose J. Patient medication adherence: measures in daily practice. Oman Med J. 2011;26(3):155- 9. DOI: 10.5001/omj.2011.38. PubMed PMID: 22043406; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3191684.

National Aliance on Mental Illness. (2016). Medication plan adherence. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Medication-Plan-Adherence

By: Anna Fortune, Director of Substance Use Services and Anna Giddens, Community Support Specialist

Individuals who have both a mental health and a substance use diagnosis are said to have a co-occurring diagnosis (or dual diagnosis). One-third of individuals who have an alcohol use disorder also have a mental health disorder. There are many mental health conditions that can co-occur with alcohol use disorder. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), three mental disorders most commonly comorbid with alcoholism are major depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety disorder.

Alcohol Use Disorder can cause symptoms and behaviors of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis both during intoxication and withdrawal. On the other hand, mental health diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and childhood trauma can create an increased risk of someone developing an alcohol use disorder. Co-occurring diagnoses can occur simultaneously or sequentially, yet it is important to note that there is not always a causal factor between the two. There are also many instances where intoxication and withdrawal look like a psychiatric disorder that is not actually there.  

When seeking treatment for co-occurring issues, it is imperative to treat both and not neglect one of the conditions while focusing on the other. This should be a standard part of every alcohol treatment program as the relationship between the two diagnoses can impact each disorder’s symptom severity and frequency. 

Most common symptoms of a dual diagnosis include:

  • Isolating oneself from family and friends
  • Changes in appetite, such as eating more or less than usual
  • Loss of energy and motivation
  • Trouble concentrating or completing tasks
  • Neglecting personal or professional responsibilities 
  • Increased irritability, anger, or anxiety
  • Rationalizing excessive alcohol consumption

References:

https://www.alcohol.org/co-occurring-disorder/Dual diagnosis. Alcohol Rehab Guide. (2022, February 24). Retrieved March 23, 2022, from https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/resources/dual-diagnosis/