June is LGBT awareness month, and we wanted to take the time to highlight the mental health needs of our LGBT community. When referencing LGBT we are referring to a community consisting of individuals identifying as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender.” According to the US Institute of Medicine this also refers to a broad coalition of groups that are diverse with respect to gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. It is important as a society to understand the potential mental health struggles of our LGBT community members as awareness is the first step to positive change. 

Here are some quick facts about youth members of our LGBT community: 

  • Transgender youth are much more likely than their non-transgender peers to experience depression – nearly 4x the risk (Reisner 2015 study)
  • LGBTQ teens experience more depression symptoms than their hetero peers (Marshal 2011)
  • In a 2016 – 2017 survey from Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 28% of LGBTQ youth (including 40% of transgender youth) said they felt depressed most or all of the time during the last 30 days.   Compare that to only 12% of non-LGBTQ youth (HRC Foundation 2017)
  • 60% of LGBQ youth reported being so sad or hopeless they stopped doing some of their usual activities (Kann 2016)
  • LGBQ youth are more than TWICE as likely to feel suicidal and over 4x as likely to attempt suicide compared to hetero youth (Kann 2016). According to one study, 1/3 or transgender youth have seriously considered suicide and 1 in 5  has made an attempt  (Reisner 2015)
  • A 2014 study found that LGBQ people who live in communities with more stigmatizing attitudes about their sexual orientation die an average of 12 years earlier than LGBQ people in least-prejudiced communities (Hatzenbuehler 2014)

Although these may be some hard facts to digest, there are several protective factors to be aware of that can increase the possibility of positive outcomes.   Some of these include: 

  • Ensure strong family bonds and increased support from caring adults. It has been documented that youth with affirming families report higher levels of self-esteem. 
  • Environmental support such as (positive school climate – anti-bullying policies) neutral office climates with a concentration on making a safe place for all. 
  • Social support- having the opportunity to connect with others who value diverse beliefs and can exercise empathy and compassion for the experience of another. 
  • Coping strategies- can be a wide range of tools to aid in coping with anxieties, depression and self-doubt should they arise. (mindfulness, meditation, deep breathing). Professional counseling support in gaining some of these tools can be a large asset. 

ANYONE can support another in their use of coping strategies.  Adults who work with members of the LGBT community – counselors, teachers, health professionals – can make it clear that their office is a safe space for youth. 

One of Georgia HOPE’s core values is “Acting for the whole.” We honor individuals of all diversities. We want to emphasize the month of June for our friends who are part of the LGBT community. 

Some further mental health resources to check out: 

  • NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI encourages LGBTQ people to take care of their mental health and offers help with locating mental health care providers, and tips on how to talk to a therapist.
  • Mental Health America works locally and nationally to raise awareness about mental health and ensures that those at-risk for mental illnesses and related disorders receive proper, timely and effective treatment. MHA offers unique educational materials created specifically for the LGBTQ audience.
  • The Trevor Project is a multimedia support network for LGBTQ youth providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention.
  • The Association of LGBTQ Psychiatrists works within the APA to influence policies relevant to the lesbian and gay community, collaborates with other organizations of gay and lesbian physicians and mental health professionals, and provides referral services for lesbian and gay patients. They offer a list of helpful links to individual and community resources.
  • The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization. They have called for “open, honest discussions about mental health with young people, a key step to reducing stigma and empowering them to seek help and support when needed.”

Want to Talk?

If you’re struggling with any mental health issues, you don’t have to go through this alone. Georgia HOPE has virtual, online programs available for everyone, so that you can get the support that you need. Please contact us here.

We are currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health. We offer self-pay options as well as insurance coverage.

If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us to start the first steps or call us at 706-279-0405.If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.

#HOPEisHere

References:

At Georgia HOPE, our goal every day is to create HOPE for everyone.  In 2015, Georgia HOPE became one of the first behavioral health providers in the nation to be recognized as a Patient-Centered Specialty Practice. This means that we are committed to serving the whole person. When an individual enters services with us, we begin communicating with their primary care provider to ensure that we understand how their mental health may be impacting their physical health, and vice versa. It truly does take a village. #MentalHealthMatters

Whether you’re a current client, new here, school partner, or community partner, we’re thankful to have you here! We HOPE to be able to provide you with the services that you need.

What Services Are Available?

TeleTherapy allows us to provide individual or family therapy services through a HIPAA compliant online platform in any private setting. Anywhere that you can access the internet, you can access our teletherapy services.

  • Mental Health Assessment
  • Substance Abuse Assessment
  • Individual & Family Counseling
  • Drug and Alcohol Addiction Counseling and Recovery Services
  • Eating Disorder Counseling
  • Anxiety and Depression Counseling
  • Postpartum Depression Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Psychiatric and Nurse Services
  • Peer Support Services
  • Psychiatric Assessments
  • Medication Evaluation & Management
  • Case Management
  • Skill Building/CSI
  • Resource Linkage
  • Parent Skills Training

Community Groups / Group Therapy allows us to offer community groups / group therapy through a HIPAA compliant secure online platform.

  • Adult Groups: For example- Women’s Prenatal & Postpartum, Health Relationships, Wellness Skills & Life Skills, and More
  • Children Groups: For Example – Self Esteem Building for Teen Girls, Anger Management, Emotional & Social Skills, and More
  • For the full list, click here.

Who Can Get Services at Georgia HOPE or Refer Others to Services?

Individuals and Families

Georgia HOPE offers mental health, substance use, and recovery services for:

  • Adults
  • Children
  • Teens
  • Couples
  • Families

Community Partners

Georgia HOPE works with community partners to connect others to mental health, substance use or family preservation services.

  • Mental Health Assessment
  • Substance Abuse Assessment
  • Individual & Family Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Psychiatric and Nurse Services
  • Peer Support Services
  • Psychiatric Assessments
  • Medication Evaluation & Management
  • Case Management
  • Skill Building/CSI
  • Resource Linkage
  • Parent Skills Training

School Partners

Georgia HOPE works with schools in the state of Georgia to connect school families and parents, staff, teachers, and students to mental health, substance use or family preservation services.

  • Diagnostic Assessment
  • Community Support & Resource Linkage
  • 24/7 Crisis Protocol & Support
  • Individual & Family Therapy
  • Family Training
  • Group Therapy & Training
  • Client Support Services
  • Psychiatric Care
  • Nursing Services
  • Medication Management
  • Case Management
  • Assistance with Obtaining Medicaid
  • Consultation with Teachers
  • Classroom Observation
  • Universal Prevention Initiatives
  • School & County Wide Trainings
  • Camp HOPE!

How Can You Pay for Services at Georgia HOPE?

We accept Medicaid, Amerigroup, Wellcare, Peachstate/Cenpatico, CareSource, DFCS Service Authorizations, and offer very affordable self pay rates.

What Are the Next Steps?

For more information, to take the next steps or to speak to someone directly, contact us here.

Due to the pandemic, unfortunately some families have lost their insurance, Medicaid or private insurance, due to unemployment and the unpredictable times.

If you have recently lost your insurance, you may qualify for free or low-cost health plans through Georgia’s Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids® programs.

Qualifications:

To find out more visit www.myamerigroup.com/GA to learn how to apply.

Click the download button below for a full list of the state of Georgia resources:

As always, Georgia HOPE is here. Your mental health is just as important to your physical health. We offer integrated care and services for your needs.

Georgia HOPE accepts Medicaid, Amerigroup, Wellcare, Peachstate/Cenpatico, CareSource, DFCS Service Authorizations, and offer very affordable self pay rates.

Contact us today for more information.

#HOPEisHere

What Is a Traumatic Event?

A traumatic event is a scary, dangerous, or violent event that possess a threat to a child’s life. Witnessing a traumatic event that threatens life or physical security of a loved one can also be traumatic. This is particularly important for young children as their sense of safety depends on the perceived safety of those around them.

Traumatic experiences can bring out strong emotions and physical reactions that can persist long after the event. Children may feel scared, helpless or overwhelmed.

Even though adults work hard to keep children safe, dangerous events still happen. This danger can come from outside of the family (such as a natural disaster, car accident, school shooting, or community violence) or from within the family, such as domestic violence, physical or sexual abuse, or the unexpected death of a loved one.

What Experiences Might Be Traumatic?

  • Bullying
  • Family or community violence
  • Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse and neglect
  • Natural and technological disasters
  • Sudden or violent loss of a loved one
  • Serious accidents or life-threatening illness
  • Military family-related stressors (e.g., deployment, parental loss or injury)

Prevalence of Traumatic Exposure & Symptoms

In a nationally representative survey of 12- to 17-year-old youth, 8 percent reported a lifetime prevalence of sexual assault, 17 percent reported physical assault, and 39 percent reported witnessing violence. Among 536 elementary and middle school children surveyed in an inner city community, 30 percent had witnessed a stabbing and 26 percent had witnessed a shooting Among middle and junior high school students in an urban school system, 41 percent reported witnessing a stabbing or shooting in the past year. (source)

In a community sample of older adolescents, 14.5 percent of those who had experienced a serious trauma developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). A recent review of research on children exposed to specific traumas found wide ranges in rates of PTSD: 20 percent to 63 percent in survivors of child maltreatment, 12 percent to 53 percent in the medically ill. 5 percent to 95 percent in disaster survivors. Based upon data from a variety of sources, a conservative annual cost of child abuse and neglect is an estimated $103.8 billion, or $284.3 million per day (in 2007 values). http://www.nctsn.org/resources/topics/facts-and-figures https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//impact_of_complex_trauma.pdf

Things to look for with traumatized kids:

  • Anxiety, fear & worry about safety and others
  • Changes in behavior
  • Discomfort with or avoiding feelings
  • Trouble with trust and perceptions of others
  • Over- or under-reacting to bells, physical contact, doors slamming,
  • sirens, sudden movements
  • Repetitive thoughts and comments about death or dying
  • Heightened difficulty with authority, redirection, or criticism

Things to Remember with Traumatized Kids :

  • Be aware of BOTH those youth who act out AND those who are quiet.
  • Anniversaries of the event or media reports may act as reminders to
    the adolescent, causing a recurrence of symptoms, feelings, and
    behaviors.

The Importance of Relationships:

“Trauma and our response to it cannot be understood outside the context of human relationships. Whether people have survived an earthquake or have been repeatedly sexually abused, what matters most is how those experiences affect their relationships – to their loved ones, to themselves and to the world….As a result, recovery from trauma and neglect is also all about relationships – rebuilding trust, regaining confidence, returning to a sense of security and reconnecting to love….Healing and recovery are impossible – even with the best
medications and therapy in the world – without lasting, caring connections to others.” – Bruce Perry (The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog, pp. 231-232, emphasis added)

Things to Remember:

  • Healing from trauma is best done in the context of relationships.
  • So the best thing you can do is to be there, listen, and support them.
  • Take care of yourself!
  • If you notice that you feel overwhelmed or triggered by what you’re hearing,
    ask for help!
  • Don’t try to do it all on your own.
  • Referrals to professionals can be helpful supplements to the relationships you
    have with these youth.
  • Take a break!

What Resources Are Available?

Trauma is real but it doesn’t have to secure a child’s fate.

Resources available in Georgia

  • Community-based counseling
    • Community Service Boards (CSB)
    • Private Providers (i.e. Georgia HOPE)
    • Care Management Entities (CME)
    • Types: CORE, DFCS-contracted, IFI, wrap-around
  • Private Practice Providers
  • Child Advocacy Centers
  • Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners
  • Medical Doctors (Pediatricians)

Example of Community Interventions – Special Programs at Georgia HOPE:

Types of Services

  • Individual Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Individual Skills-building (i.e., CSI)
  • Parent Training
  • Medication Management
  • Certified Peer Specialist (CPS)

Great Resources Available to You:

Georgia HOPE is here for you and your family during, always. Whether it’s providing tips through our blog and social media channels or online family therapy. If there is anything we can do to help you and your family, please feel free to reach out to us! HOPE is here.

online therapy

Just hearing about Teleservices or TeleMental health?  Wondering what it means exactly or how it could impact you and your medical or mental health services? 

Here are some things you may want to know! 

TeleMental Health has been around for decades but has grown exponentially over the past few years.  Now, due to COVID-19, almost every mental health and medical provider has utilized teleservices in some fashion!  Since the virus outbreak, most government regulations have been relaxed, thereby allowing more providers to be trained to offer teleservices for those needing medical and mental health services.  When crisis occurs, mental health and substance use needs do not vanish.  In fact, many see increased feelings of anxiety, stress, isolation and depression. TeleMental Health services is the answer in continuing to reach those in need of these services and connecting with anyone needing continued, or extra support, during these difficult times.  Individuals need to know they are not alone or forgotten. 

A study conducted by the University of Michigan in 2018 found that the most frequent users of teleservices were psychiatrists at 78%, mental health counselors at 33%, social workers at 24%, psychologists at 16% and substance use counselors at 12%.  Teleservices is not a new method of service delivery and research outcomes show that services delivered electronically is just as effective as face to face, traditional delivery. (See studies by the NCBI and Science daily – links below).

You may ask why are we just now relaxing some of these regulations if teleservices are just as effective as traditional forms of therapy?  Great question and so glad you asked! We hope to see increased relaxation on these guidelines post pandemic for the following reasons and more.  

In an article written by Dr. Michael Greiwe the following are important things to consider about teleservices.

TeleMental Health offers:

  • Increased options for service delivery 
  • Increased Access to services.  Miles no longer matter! Travel, gas money, finding a provider close to the client are all barriers to many individuals when seeking services. 
  • Improves client engagement- especially for those in rural areas
  • Reduces overhead and increases revenue for the business 
  • Reduces no shows and cancellations 
  • Improves client satisfaction.  Recently, Georgia HOPE conducted a survey of almost 500 clients.  The survey showed that 95% of clients indicated they were completely satisfied with the teleservices provided by the agency. 

Additionally, teleservices offer support and recovery-focused services virtually from the comfort of the client and provider’s home.  Providers are able to connect with more clients due to decrease in drive time, traffic, office interruptions and the list goes on and on.   

Our mission at Georgia HOPE is to break down barriers, open more doors to accessing services and reach more individuals in need.  TeleMental Health is the answer to many of these initiatives. We were offering teleservices long before COVID-19 and we plan to continue long after. We will be advocating for the expansion of teleservices to all who will hear us. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our TeleMental Health services, contact us today!

#HOPEisHere

Sources:

*Written by Tonya Parrish MA LPC, Georgia HOPE Clinical Director 

covid19

If the news about the COVID-19 situation has you feeling stressed out, you are not alone. But there are steps you can take to lower your stress, reduce anxiety and help you stay healthy in these uncertain times.

Tips for Coping during COVID-19 and Creating a Sense of Calmness during Times of Anxiety:

Calm Your Body and Mind – When you notice that you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, try deep breathing or counting your breath down from 10. Practice mindfulness. Turn your thoughts into a bigger perspective view. When a vaccine is found and this has died down, how do you want to have used this time? Focus on the things you can control, like washing your hands and social distancing. Buy food and supplies as normal. Don’t overbuy remembering that others need things too – just get enough for you and your family to get through a few weeks at a time.

Prioritize Self-Care – There are a lot of things you can do to help keep you physically and mentally healthy:

  • Journaling
  • Exercising
  • Healthy Eating
  • Meditating
  • Reading
  • Crafting
  • Listening to music
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing gratitude

Consume a Healthy Dose of Media – Try to minimize your time with the media – just get the facts you need to stay informed and safe. Being connected 24/7 is hard on our mental health. We suggest to just check the news or reputable news outlet websites just once daily.

Reach Out to Others – Share kindness, care, compassion and love with one another whether it is a family member, friend, neighbor or stranger while still practicing social distance. In difficult times like these, using your support network – can be very helpful. Just make sure to reach out to people who are supportive and not those who will increase your stress. And be sure to talk about things other than COVID-19! Jump on a Zoom call with friends and do trivia, FaceTime a family member, mail a card to a distant relative, use this time to stay connected even though a part.

Seek Professional Counseling / Licensed Therapy Services – If you find that anxiety is interfering with your daily functioning or causing increased distress, it’s important to know that you can reach out to a mental health professional. We must learn to overcome the stigma placed on seeking help for mental health issues. Never suffer in silence. There are always options for you, even during social isolation – there’s Teletherapy services available and Teledoc appointments you can make with doctors.

If you live in Georgia, Georgia HOPE is here for you, you can always reach out to us at (706) 279-0405 or https://gahope.org/make-a-referral/rsd-referral/.

alcohol awareness

Georgia HOPE wants to do our part to increase outreach and education regarding the dangers of alcohol use disorders and issues related to alcohol. Our families and communities need to know the resources, information, and options available to address this issue. You can learn more Alcohol Awareness Month here.

Connection is the Opposite of Addiction

Anyone with any association in the substance use world, knows that fact. To learn more about social isolation implications during Covid-19, alcohol.org conducted a survey of 3,000 people working from home across the U.S. to see how this is impacting drinking during the workday. They found that 33% of Georgians surveyed say they’ve had alcohol during the work hours while at home. The national average was 32%. Around one-fifth of people surveyed said they stockpiled alcohol for self-isolation. Here are some other statistics on alcohol use in the U.S.

  • 6 people die every day in the U.S. from alcohol poisoning
  • More than 4,300 people die every year as a result of teenage alcohol use
  • As many as 1.3 million underaged youth engaged in binge drinking within the past month
  • Youth who start drinking before age 15 years are 6 TIMES more likely to develop alcohol dependence or abuse
  • More than 16 million Americans over the age of 18 were living with an alcohol use disorder and about 623,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 17 were struggling as well National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

These are scary statistics. Individuals with problematic drinking behaviors are among the most vulnerable populations right now. Not only does drinking weaken the immune system, studies show that there is a clear relationship between anxiety and alcohol use.

So What Can You Do?

  1. Address the issue before it becomes the problem – talk to your teens
    • Show you disapprove of underage drinking
    • Show you care about your child’s health, wellness and success
    • Show you’re a good source of information about alcohol and other drugs. Here’s a good place to start
    • https://www.shatterproof.org/blog/5-things-know-about-alcohol
    • Show you’re paying attention and will discourage risky behavior
    • Build your child’s skills and strategies for avoiding drinking and drug use
  2. Be an example for your family and friends to show them healthier methods/activities to relieve stress
    • Stretch, take a walk, organize a game night, meditate, get outdoors, make fun mocktails
  3. Take this quiz to better understand your drinking patterns: https://alcoholscreening.org/

Know the Resources

  1. Many programs are offering virtual meetings online
  2. Helpful websites with information and resources
  3. At Georgia HOPE we offer substance use treatment for adolescents and adults in early intervention, relapse prevention and outpatient services including: individual and family therapy, group therapy, skill building, resource linkage, peer support, and co-occurring disorder medication management and treatment. https://gahope.org/.

Crisis Resources

April is Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Month, a time to act together to raise awareness and empower people across the nation to play a role in making great childhoods happen. In a time of physical distancing, we encourage you to keep the messages of child abuse prevention month strong in alternative ways as well as connecting with one another through positive messages, virtual hugs, text, FaceTime, and even to just offer emotional support is important during these times.  

Here’s some great resources to get involved and take a stand for child abuse prevention month:

What’s the Blue Pinwheel? 

Pinwheels for Prevention


Pinwheels for Prevention® is a national public awareness campaign during Child Abuse Prevention Month (CAP Month) every April, designed by Prevent Child Abuse America to communicate efforts and change the way states think about prevention. Prevent Child Abuse Georgia (PCA GA) encourages community activities and the support of public policies that prioritize healthy child development and child abuse prevention right from the start!

The classic blue and silver Pinwheels for Prevention® are available for purchase through PCA Georgia’s online store. You can download a pinwheel coloring sheet that is great for children of all ages. For older children, download instructions on how to make your own paper pinwheel

Did you know Georgia HOPE mental health and substance use services are available even during COVID-19?

We are offering several different types of groups for children, adolescents, and adults via TeleMental Health.

If you or your child is experiencing sadness, anger, frustration, anxiety, or any other mental health symptoms, please know that there is help. Simply contact Georgia HOPE at (706) 279-0405 or https://gahope.org/make-a-referral.

#HOPEisHere 

Georgia HOPE TeleMental Health Services

Georgia HOPE is a provider of Mental Health, Substance Use, and Family Preservation Services.

Our Recovery Services Division (Mental Health and Substance Use Services) provides Community Based and School Based Services in 26 counties. Additionally, these services are available via TeleMental Health throughout the entire state of Georgia. To learn more, please visit us at https://gahope.org/recovery-services/.

What are some signs and symptoms of Mental Health?

SadnessWorry
AnxietyAngry outbursts
Feelings of hopelessnessIrritability
Muscle TensionFeelings of guilt or worthlessness
Loss of interest in hobbies/activitiesDecreased energy or fatigue
Feeling restless or trouble sitting stillThoughts of death or suicide
Difficulty sleeping or oversleepingAppetite and/or weight change
Aches/pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems
with no clear physical cause
Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions

One in five Americans have a mental health condition.

70-80% of children with mental health conditions never receive help.

Here is how we can help!

We work with the individual/family to determine their wants, needs, and preferences for care. This may include a combination of services, which could include: 

Diagnostic AssessmentPsychiatric Care
Nursing Assessment & CareCommunity & Resource Linkage
Individual CounselingFamily Counseling
Parent TrainingEvidence-Based Groups
Drug ScreensMedication Administration
24-hour Crisis Response CoverageTransition Services

90% of the families we serve are referred to us by a concerned community member.

What is the next step?

Anyone can make a referral for Mental Health or Substance Use Services. Simply complete the online referral (https://gahope.org/make-a-referral/rsd-referral/) or call our office 706-279-0405.

Don’t suffer alone! #HOPEisHere!

No, I’m not talking about skinny jeans. I’m talking about your therapist. Although finding the “right” therapist can be just as frustrating as finding that perfect pair of pants. No “sucking it in” should be necessary when finding someone to courageously share your shadow moments with. Feeling safe, accepted by, and challenged by your therapist are all essential to overcoming whatever ails you.