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: 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/

By: Megan Eckles (Therapist/Training Specialist)

What is considered sexual assault?

According to the US Department of Justice, sexual assault is defined as means any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, tribal, or State law, including when the victim lacks capacity to consent.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center mentions that the are several forms of sexual violence, which include:

  • Rape
  • Child sexual assault and incest
  • Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner
  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching
  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual exploitation and trafficking
  • Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent
  • Masturbating in public
  • Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge or permission
  • Nonconsensual image sharing

Who is impacted by sexual assault?

Victims of sexual violence include people of all ages, races, genders, and religions — with and without disabilities.

  • Nearly one in five women in the United States have experienced rape or attempted rape some time in their lives.
  • In the United States, 1 in 71 men have experienced rape or attempted rape.
  • An estimated 32.3% of multiracial women, 27.5% of American Indian/Alaska Native women, 21.2% of non-Hispanic black women, 20.5% of non-Hispanic white women, and 13.6% of Hispanic women were raped during their lifetime (National Sexual Violence Resource Center, 2022).

The Facts:

  • Victims often know the person who sexually assaulted them.
  • People who sexually abuse usually target someone they know.           
    • Nearly 3 out of 4 adolescents who have been sexually assaulted were victimized by someone they knew
    • 1 out of 5 were committed by a family member (RAINN, 2022). 

How to seek help:

National Sexual Assault Hotline:

1-800-656-4673

What can be done?

  • Raising awareness
  • Supporting survivors 
  • Getting involved to help change laws and policies regarding crimes of sexual violence and how survivors are treated

Resources:

https://www.nsvrc.org

https://www.rainn.org

https://www.nsvrc.org/about-sexual-assault

By: Megan Eckles (Therapist/Training Specialsit)

What are the facts?

  • 1 in 7 children experienced abuse of neglect within the last year (CDC, 2022). 
  • In 2020 Georgia ranked 38th in the nation for child well-being (Georgia Division of Family and Children Services).

Types of Abuse

  • Physical Abuse: injury or death inflicted upon a child by a parent or caretaker other than by accidental means​
  • Neglect: parent or caretaker allows a child to experience avoidable suffering or fails to provide basic essentials for physical, social, and emotional development​
  • Emotional Abuse: parent or caretaker creates a negative emotional atmosphere for the child ​
  • Sexual Abuse: any adult or older or more powerful child employs, uses, persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any minor to engage in any form of sexual intercourse​
  • Endangering a Child: a person intentionally allows a child under the age of 18 to witness the commission of a forcible felony, battery, or family violence, and/or a person knows that a child under the age of 18 is present and sees or hears the act, commits a forcible felony, battery, or family violence (Georgia Division of Family and Children Services).

Warning Signs of Abuse

Mayo Clinic notes multiple signs and symptoms of abuse.

  • Withdrawal from friends or usual activities
  • Changes in behavior — such as aggression, anger, hostility or hyperactivity — or changes in school performance
  • Depression, anxiety or unusual fears, or a sudden loss of self-confidence
  • An apparent lack of supervision
  • Frequent absences from school
  • Reluctance to leave school activities, as if he or she doesn’t want to go home
  • Attempts at running away
  • Rebellious or defiant behavior
  • Self-harm or attempts at suicide

What can I do?

As a mandated reporter, you are required to make a DFCS report. According to GA law, failure to report abuse can be found guilty of a misdemeanor.

How to Report:

Child abuse and/or neglect reports are taken 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A report can be submitted on online via the portal or by paper and faxed in.

1.855.GACHILD (+1 855-422-4453)

Resources:

Georgia Division of Family and Children Services: https://dfcs.georgia.gov

https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/childabuseandneglect/index.html

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/child-abuse/symptoms-causes/syc-20370864

http://www.pcageorgiahelpline.org

Self-harm: this is when one hurts themselves as a way of dealing with very difficult feelings.

Some individuals self-harm as a way to:

-express their feelings when it is hard to put into words

-change emotional pain into physical pain

-reduce overwhelming feelings

-punish themselves for their feelings and experiences

-express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life

Ways individuals self-harm: 

-cutting yourself

-over-eating or under-eating

-biting yourself

-hitting yourself or walls

-pulling your hair

-picking or scratching at your skin

How to overcome self-harm:

  • Learn to recognize triggers: triggers are people, places, situations, sensations, or events that cause specific thoughts or feelings. 
  • Become aware of the urge to self-harm: being able to recognize urges helps an individual take steps towards reducing or stopping self-harm. 

Urges can include:

-strong emotions like sadness or anger

-racing heart or feelings of heaviness

-disconnection from yourself or a loss of sensation

-unhealthy decisions, like working too hard to avoid feelings 

-repetitive thoughts about harming yourself

  • Identify distractions: identify distractions that can help distract the urge to self-harm. 
  • Keep a diary: a diary can help keep track and understand self-harming behaviors. This is useful to keep track of what occurred before, during, and after self-harming. After a period of time, the diary can help spot patterns of self-harming behaviors (Melinda, 2022). 
  • Use coping techniques: to help overcome self-harm, an alternate coping skill needs to take its place. 
  • If self-harm is to express pain and intense emotion: paint, draw, journal, write a poem, listen to music
  • If self-harm is to calm or soothe: take a hot bath, pet an animal, use a warm blanket, massage your neck, hands, and feet, listen to calming music
  • If self-harm is to disconnect or numb pain: call a friend, take a cold shower, hold ice in hand, chew something with a strong taste
  • If self-harm is to release tension or vent anger: exercise, punch a cushion, squeeze a stress ball, rip something up, make noises with instrument, bang pots and pans
  • Seek professional help: trained professionals can help direct towards overcoming cutting or other self-harming habits. 

Client Support Specialist: a CSS can help identify triggers and develop coping skills.

Therapy: a therapist can help explore past or current trauma that may be triggering self-harming behaviors and can assist in helping develop coping skills (Self-harm, 2020). 

Resources

Melinda. (2022, February 7). Cutting and self-harm. HelpGuide.org. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/cutting-and-self-harm.htm

Self-harm 2020 – mind. (n.d.). Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/5783/self-harm-2020.pdf

What is Bipolar Disorder?

According to National Institute of Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder (formerly known as manic-depressive illness or manic depression), is a mental disorder that causes and unusual shift in mood, with extreme highs and lows.

Types of Bipolar:

  • Bipolar I 

Having at least one manic episode followed by hypomanic or major depressive episode. Manic episodes lasting at least 7 days or needing immediate hospital care 

  • Bipolar II

Having at least one major depressive episode and at least one hypomanic, but no manic episodes

  • Cyclothymic

Having periods of hypomanic symptoms as well as periods of depressive symptoms lasting for at least 2 years (1 year in children and adolescents). However, the symptoms do not meet the diagnostic requirements for a hypomanic episode and a depressive episode.

Types of Episodes:

  • Manic

A manic episode is characterized as at least one week of being extremely high-spirited or irritable most of the days, possessing more energy than usual, and at least 3 of the following: 

  • Decreased need for sleep
  • Fast speech
  • Uncontrollable racing thoughts/quickly changing topics while speaking
  • Distractibility
  • Increased activity 
  • Increased risky behaviors 

Some people in manic episodes report psychotic features, such as false beliefs and/or hallucinations.

  • Hypomanic

Hypomanic is characterized with less severe manic symptoms only 4 days in a row versus a week.

  • Major Depressive

Major depressive is characterized by at least 2 weeks where at least 5 of the following symptoms present:

  • Intense sadness or despair
  • Loss of interest in activities the person once enjoyed
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Fatigue
  • Increased or decreased sleep
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Restlessness or slowed speech or movement
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Treatment:

Bipolar Disorder comes with lifelong treatment. Medication is used to balance and stabilize mood. Along with medication, therapy/counseling has proven to be helpful with managing the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder.

Resources:

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/bipolar-disorders/what-are-bipolar-disorders