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 

Supporting your Child in Adjusting to a New “Temporary Normal”

The last few weeks for many families have been spent making sure basic needs are acquired, accepting the need to change most plans for an uncertain amount of time, and overall just wrapping minds around our current status. There is a range of feelings regarding school being canceled, parents losing jobs, and the possible illness of family members and friends which make for stressful topics to address with any child who inevitably feels the change in tone from all. These are not topics to avoid though but to address with age appropriate explanation and support. Below are some tips on supporting your child through their uncertainties while coping with your own: 

1. Do not fear talking with your child in an age appropriate manner about Covid-19 and some of the fear around the virus.

By now there are many resources available to aid in doing this. Children are often more perceptive to the feelings and tone of their surroundings than we realize. Ignoring the issue does not eliminate the feelings it creates.  Here are some resources to help in doing this: 

2. Make sure as a parent you are participating in self-care and taking steps to manage your own stress.

Practice the saying “Be a thermostat, not a thermometer” from the Child Parent Relationship Therapy Manual written by Sue Bratton, Gary Landreth, Theresa Kellam, & Sandra Blackard. We want to understand and be with our child during hard times but not let their fear and anxiety during a situation raise ours and vice versa.

3. Practice using Validation when speaking with your child about their fears.

Validation is not confirmation, yet a way to communicate understanding to your child and further connection.  Examples of this may look like, “I could see how you would feel that way.” “I understand how that is hard to think about.” According to Miller, Glinski, Woodberry, Mitchell, and Indik (2002), there are six levels of validation: (https://www.goodtherapy.org/Validation )

  • Listen – ex:“I hear you”
  • Reflection – ex: “ I hear you saying you are really worried about our safety right now” 
  • Empathize – ex: “I understand how you may feel that way with all the changes happening right now.” 
  • Acknowledge Reasons for Behavior – ex: “I understand why it has been hard for you to sleep without answers to your questions.” 
  • Acknowledge Courage- ex: “It takes allot of courage for you to continue trusting that we will all get through this hard time.” 

4. Use this time to create a new schedule that fits your family’s needs.

Children tend to function best, especially in times of uncertainty, with a schedule of things they know they can count on. Mealtimes outlined, learning time, reading time, quiet time and outside time (weather allowing) scheduled for their new routine. Let them know they can count on you to make sure certain these scheduled events happen daily. 

5. Take advantage of the many resources out there to keep the environment fun and light hearted.

These are all resources one may not have been able to take advantage of previously. Below are a few gathered from Georgia HOPE’s Wellness Coordinator, Jana Clift: 

In conclusion, know that we at Georgia HOPE are still here to offer the extra support for parents, children and families that may be needed during this atypical time!! Please do not hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can walk beside you as you navigate your New Temporary Normal.  #HOPEisHere         

Written by: Jennifer Cooper MS, LPC, RPT, NCC 

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!

EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

With schools being cancelled for the rest of the year, it can feel overwhelming for both parents and kids. That’s why we’ve put together some of our top educational resources from toddlers to K-12. Check out our resource list below and reach out to HOPE with any questions, we’re always here.

COVID-19

Toddlers

Reading

Speech

K-12

Conflict Resolution:

Social Emotional Learning Stories:

Emotional Regulation & Mental Health:

Social Skills:

Financial Life skills: 

Great resources of all kinds:

FREE WEBSITES

Download the Educational Resources PDF below:

#HOPEisHERE

growth through adversity

It is safe to say that many are living in a time characterized by uncertainty, doubt, and for some, fear of their future and wellbeing. These hard feelings create a noticeable tone in our society that is hard to ignore for any age. With bare store shelves, emphasis put on social distancing, shelter in place for some, closing of schools, lack of routine, and economic hardships the feelings of “normalcy” have been shaken for many around the world. This puts us all feeling in a vulnerable place. With vulnerability though, comes the opportunity for growth!! Hope is not lost.

Here are some practical tips on how to grow through times of uncertainty and vulnerability. 

  • Do not run from feelings of anxiety and uncertainty. These feelings come from a place of protection. Notice them, be mindful of them, do not judge them. There is no right or wrong way to feel during a time of crisis. Focus on safety in the current moment. Take things day by day, moment to moment if needed. 
  • Get plenty of sleep. Research shows sleep helps to revitalize and recharge the body, mind and spirit. This can be anywhere from 6-8 hours for adults and 9-12 for children/adolescents. 
  • Participate in physical activity daily.  Research shows there is a strong connection between exercise and mental health wellbeing. This can include:
    • Taking a walk while phoning a friend. 
    • Playing outside with a child or pet. 
    • Taking advantage of a free Yoga or exercise fitness
    • video on Youtube. 
    • Spending time in the yard 
    • The possibilities are endless. The important part is to get moving. 
  • Read a book or watch a show you have been wanting to watch. Discover something new! Stimulating your mind is a great way to create feelings of positivity and growth. There are many free online resources currently for diving into something new. 
  • Practice social distancing but still work to maintain positive social relationships. Connect via phone or other means of technology with at least one positive social connection a day.  It is easy for the introvert in all of us to literally social distance and retreat within. Although tempting, according to Mindwise.org, “Friendships offer a number of mental health benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, purpose, increased levels of happiness, reduced levels of stress, improved self-worth and confidence.” 
  • Help out a friend or neighbor in need. Focusing on the needs of others facilitates feelings of happiness and a sense of purpose outside of ourselves. This can be offering to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, checking to see if mail needs to be picked up/animals walked, offering words of encouragement to a friend who may be affected by illness. We are at a time like no other to come together as communities and look outward to where help may be needed.  In the neighborhood where I live, many neighbors agreed to paint colorful rainbows to put in our windows for others to see as they got out for walks and fresh air. Such a small act that created smiles for so many. 
  • Do not be ashamed or fearful of reaching out for professional counseling support. Seeking extra support during times of adversity is a sign of proactive strength, not weakness. We at Georgia HOPE are here to help you navigate through the hard parts.  #HOPEisHere    

And remember: 

“Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny” – C.S Lewis.

Parenting Tip: Substance Use Prevention During COVID-19

Anyone else feeling the stress of homeschooling right now? I know I’m not alone in that! What about stressors of having to work from home with kids there, losing a job, not having access to valuable resources, worrying about medical issues? 

Many parents, guardians and adolescents are facing a big change in their lives right now…being stuck at home – unable to go to work, school, attend social gatherings or be out in the community. Not only have our days changed but big life events have been cancelled and futures are uncertain. What might be some negative things that you and your teen experience during the COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing guidelines that have disrupted normal routines? Fear, Stress, Boredom/Freedom (lack of supervision), Loss, Trauma. 

So why is it important that we take careful thought and action during this adjustment period? Because when any of the above negative thoughts, emotions or situations occur, it can lead to substance use problems.

Let’s start with the basics: why do people begin using drugs or alcohol?

  • To feel good – most abused drugs produce intense feelings of pleasure (stimulants produce “highs” followed by feelings of power, self-confidence and increased energy: opiates produce euphoria followed by feelings of relaxation and satisfaction) 
  • To feel better – to lessen feelings of pain (injury or chronic medical condition) and distress (social anxiety, stress, and depression)
  • To do better – pressure to chemically enhance or improve their cognitive or athletic performance 
  • Curiosity and “because others are doing it” – engage in risky behavior to impress friends and express freedom from guardians or social rules (strong influence of peer pressures where adolescents are particularly vulnerable) 

* Children and adolescents are at a vulnerable age as early use increases the chances of developing an addiction

How can we effectively cope with these unique stressors to protect our teens from substance use?

As I provide some education about the risk and protective factors for substance use and associated resources, know that risk and protective factors associated with substance use are common across multiple mental health disorders (anxiety, depression, etc.). 

Here are the main risk factors for early substance use as well as some tips, resources and interventions for these risks:

  • Lack of parental supervision – This often leads kids to hang out with older individuals and to be exposed to more dangerous environments. Here’s a helpful resource on the power of parental supervision
  • Academic problems – Online tutoring: keep them learning.
  • Undiagnosed mental health problems – If you suspect your child is dealing with mental health issues, please contact a mental health professional. Georgia HOPE would love to help!
  • Peer pressure/peer substance use – Talk with your child about peer pressure and know their friends. Here’s a great resource around content preventing substance use in teens.
  • Drug availability – A child’s first experience with substances is usually in the home, so safely dispose of prescription medicines.  Here’s a resource on safely disposing your prescription medicines.  
  • Poverty – Find a free and reduced-price prosocial activities for children.
  • Peer rejection – Ask your child if they are being bullied; ensure that they are having ongoing positive social interactions.
  • Child abuse or neglect – Take care of your own mental health as parental mental health and substance use issues are the number one reason for child welfare reports.
  • Genetic predisposition and parental exposure – If your family has a history of substance use, talk to your child about predisposition and the probability of addiction from experimentation 
  • Trauma – If your child has experienced something traumatic, ensure they can process it with a mental health therapist.

Here are the main protective factors and some tips, resources and interventions to build these protective factors:

  • Parent-child attachment – Foster a strong relationship with your child.
  • Commitment to school – Make education and learning a priority (help them with their new way of doing school at home, go on virtual vacations like visiting a museum from home with a free virtual tour). Here’s a resource of an out of school toolkit.
  • Family values – Have family meetings and create family values together.
  • Expectations of future career – Tell your child about the skills and talents they have and help them grow an utilize those abilities.
  • Positive peer group – Provide opportunities for them to create friendships with other families that hold similar values as your own.
  • Positive self-esteem and good mental health – Speak life, hope and kindness in your home and to your children. Help them learn positive coping mechanisms. Here’s a resource on how to talk with your teen.
  • Extra-curricular/prosocial activities – Assist in building character, talents, interests, positive peer groups and prosocial behaviors.
  • Positive parenting: Here is a good outline for positive parenting practices to prevent youth drug use:
    1. Relationship: Meet basic needs and develop close relationship.
    2. Role model: Be a good role model when it comes to drinking, taking medicine and handling stress.
    3. Know your child: Know your child’s risk level and know your child’s friends.
    4. Monitor, supervise and set boundaries: Remember that you are the parent and not the friend.
    5. Talk to them: Have ongoing conversations and provide information about drugs and alcohol

Hot Topics

  1. Social Distancing: I’ve heard from a lot of parents who are struggling to force their teen or young adult to quarantine and practice social distancing. Here is a great resource to help with your teen understand social distancing:  https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_help_teens_shelter_in_place.
  2. Vaping: There is currently an adolescent vaping trend that can impact peer groups. Smoking drugs increases addictive potential as it enters the brain in seconds producing a powerful rush of pleasure.
  3. COVID-19 and Substance Use: Substance use takes a negative toll on your health and weakened immune systems are more likely to contract and have complications from disease, including COVID-19. Social practices connected with drug use increase exposure to infections pathogens, including COVID-19P. Inhaling smoke of any kind can be damaging to your lungs and COVID-19 is a respiratory disease which impairs breathing.

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.

HOPE is here.

compassion's place in healing

Have you ever heard the phrase, “It’s better to give than to receive”?   As a child, I thought my mom was just making something up. How can anything be better than receiving a gift? 

Well, science now backs up this quote. Research shows that practicing compassion actually stimulates emotional and physical healing!  When we are able to focus on, not only compassion for others, but also self-compassion, we can observe healing and resiliency thriving.  What better time than now to practice the art of compassion as our nation and communities face this pandemic.  

I won’t get too “sciency” but look at this quote from an article written by Amanda Tust in the Yoga Journal:   “The vagus nerve activates two key systems in the body that impact how you feel: the parasympathetic nervous system (a.k.a. what’s activated when you’re in rest-and-digest mode) and the sympathetic nervous system (your fight-flight-freeze mechanism). Compassion practices help you more readily turn on your parasympathetic nervous system. You become calmer and more relaxed, and your brain functions at its best. Your blood pressure and heart rate go down, and your immune system gets more robust. On the flip side, when the sympathetic nervous system is engaged, blood pressure and heart rate increase. Your brain isn’t as sharp as usual, and stress hormones (like cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) as well as inflammatory proteins (which are associated with the onset of disease) are released into the bloodstream.”   Isn’t our body so amazing??  

With our new norm of social distancing and self-isolation, how can we utilize the practice of compassion (with ourselves and others) to enhance our own emotional and physical healing? 

  • Find ways to stay connected with family and friends.  Use technology (text, phone call, FaceTime, social media) to send a kind message to a loved one, do a check in with someone you might be concerned about or you feel just needs a little support, keep your social media posts positive and upbeat, have a virtual game night with family and friends and the list could go on and on. 
  • When you do have to venture out to get groceries or other necessary trips, be mindful of respecting and caring for others.  Follow the guidelines set out by the CDC and protect yourself and others from potential exposure. Be patient with others even when they may not be doing the same.  You never know what that other person maybe going through or what kind of stress, fear and anxiety they maybe facing. Your kind word, smile or patience with them could really turn their day around.  Look past the rough exterior and see the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.  
  • According to a recent article on mindful.org, a 2010 study shows that compassion / kindness is contagious!  One act of compassion can multiply THREE times!! Can we commit to at least one act of kindness per day? 
  • Be kind to yourself!  Celebrate imperfection and view failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.   Offer grace to yourself and others during this difficult time in our country and world, and not just now, but every, single day. 
let's commit to at least one act of kindness per day

Yesterday, the governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, made the following quote: 

“If ever there is a time to practice humanity – the time is now. The time is now to show kindness, to show some compassion to people.”  

Let’s practice some love and compassion today!

way to wellness

When you think of wellness what comes to mind?

The common misconception of wellness is that it’s a goal achieved over time. However, wellness can be incorporated into your daily routine today! While setting a goal to lose 15 lbs or run a marathon is amazing, that’s not wellness. That’s a long term goal as part of your daily wellness routine.

At Georgia HOPE, we want to help you achieve good health and meaningful living and overall wellness, and that starts with our providers as well! 

We launched an internal #WayToWellness Daily Wellness Challenge amongst our providers and team, and think this daily wellness challenge is great for anyone!

Here’s 14 Ways to Kick Start Your Daily Wellness Routine 

  1. Drink 32oz of water today

    Drinking water helps energize your muscles, hydrates your skin, and just makes you feel better! Our tip is find a reusable water bottle or cup that you love and label the oz on the side to track your water intake! 
  2. Call 1 person you love (or text)

    – Since social isolation is needed to help the spread of COVID-19, it’s extra important to stay connected to your loved ones. Pick up the phone and Facetime, call or text a relative to just say hello and you’re thinking about them.  Not only will you make their day, you’ll feel better after it as well.
  3. Take a 20 minute walk

    Fresh air and moving your body does the mind wonders. Take a walk whether it’s down the driveway and back a few times, or if you can’t go outside just take a few laps around your home. Moving your body keeps is essential for your overall health, even if it’s just a quick 20 minute walk! 
  4. Journal for 15 minutes 

    Writing down your feelings is a great way to let things out that you may not feel comfortable saying out loud. With the COVID-19 crisis, it’s normal to feel angry, frustrated, sad or anxious, but writing down how you feel and a few things you’re grateful for is a great way to manage those feelings. 
  5. Have your favorite cup of coffee/tea 

    Whether you’re a coffee drinker or tea drinker, sometimes a sip of your favorite coffee or tea is like a nice warm hug in a mug! Grab your favorite mug and make your favorite coffee or tea to enjoy, take a sip, sit back and smile!
  6. Take a hot bath or shower –

    Starting the day with a nice hot shower or ending the day with a nice relaxing hot bath is a great way to practice #selfcare and to reset your mind to either conquer the day or get a good night’s sleep. 
  7. Take a power nap

    Now that most of us are working from home, whether you work full time or parent full time or do a little of both, taking a 15 minute power nap will help reset your mind and give you the energy to take on the remainder of your day. 
  8. Read a chapter in a (non-work) book

    With more down time at home, it’s a perfect time to pick up a book to read at night. Turn off the news, turn off your phone and settle into your favorite book.
  9. Get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep

    We know this one is easier said than done if you’re a parent or have a busy work schedule, but sleep and rest is essential to your overall wellness. Focus on going to bed earlier, try a new bedtime routine to relax such as reading or meditating, whatever it takes to get you to relax and fall asleep a little earlier to get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep. 
  10. Take two 15 minute breaks today

    With most of us working from home right now, it can make it hard to create boundaries of balancing work and home life when you technically never leave the office, so setting times for daily breaks beyond just normal lunch break is essential to keeping you mentally fresh.
  11. Listen to your favorite song or album 

    Music is a great way to relax or motivate (depending on the song choice and preference)! Whether your favorite song pumps you up to do a quick workout or knock out that work project or your favorite album helps you relax, use this time to get back to some music! Maybe even share some favorite songs or albums with your kids!
  12. Bring a healthy lunch to work (or make a healthy lunch at home) 

     If you’re still going into work / the office or if you’re working from home, making a healthy meal for lunch is a great way to keep you feeling ready to take on the rest of your day and not sluggish like an unhealthy lunch will make you.
  13. Hug someone 

    Giving a hug is a great way to share some love and feel some love. During the COVID-19 crisis, this may be a little harder if you live at home by yourself to hug someone, but if you have a pet give your pet a big hug, and if you don’t have a pet, wrap your arms around yourself and give yourself a big hug!
  14. Express your gratitude to 2 people 

    Whether it’s a family member, friend, or colleague, tell 2 people you’re thankful for them today. Showing gratitude to someone is a great way to feel gratitude yourself. 

Wellness is something you can start now! You can start it today. Follow the challenge above one day at a time and slowly incorporate wellness into your daily routine. Once your wellness challenge is completed, see how you feel. If you’re ready, incorporate a few of these wellness items into your daily routine or create a new challenge of your own! Maybe you can start a wellness challenge with your family at home or with your own colleagues or friends. The main idea here is to know that wellness doesn’t have to be a hard goal to achieve. It’s something you can start doing today and now. 

We’d love to see how you incorporate wellness into your daily routine! Tag us and #WayToWellness. 

Be Well!

Photo Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

            In the times that we live in with Social Media and the Internet providing what feels like immediate access to our favorite stars/sports players, our children feel more “connected” to them than ever. This may have been evident for many who felt the loss of famed Basketball Player, Kobe Bryant. Grief was felt around the globe for his sudden loss of life in such a tragic way. Internet, TV, and Social Media platforms give fans the opportunity to live alongside their Idols as well as find out quickly when tragedy happens. This type of sudden tragedy creates an effect often referred to as Vicarious Trauma.

Vicarious Trauma

        Vicarious trauma is described as traumatization experienced by secondhand exposure to an event. For example, learning of the tragic loss of a child/teen’s idol, whether it be musician, athlete, actor, or member of their community through a media platform or otherwise is an example of this type of trauma. This exposure can produce a range of emotions including grief, fear, and discomfort. A range of stress symptoms may also be noticed including numbing, re-experiencing finding out about the loss, heightened anxiety, increased tearfulness, troubles with focus and attention, etc.  With our children often finding out about events before we do, how can we support them in working through some of these hard feelings?

Photo courtesy of buzz-caribbean.com

Supporting our Children and Teens through these Hard Emotions

          Often a caregiver’s response to grief or discomfort in their child is to want to “fix”. This is natural and has its place but listed below are some tips on being with your child in the hard times and empowering self-awareness and healing rather than “fixing”.

  •  Often with hard emotions of this nature just simply listening is often sufficient and what is needed in the moment. This type of active listening can be healing in itself as children process through these hard emotions.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings.  Do not be afraid to have these hard conversations. Ignoring and avoiding bringing up the grief does not produce healing.
  • Approach with curiosity. Seek to understand how they have been impacted.
  • Do not be afraid to share with them how you have been impacted as well as healthy ways you are coping (exercise, journaling, art, etc.)
  • Validate your child/teen’s feelings. “I understand this is really hard for you and how much you looked up to them.”

      Lastly, if stress symptoms start to feel overwhelming or as though they are impacting daily life it is important to seek out professional Mental Health support. At Georgia HOPE we specialize in providing Mental Health Services such as Individual and Family counseling as well as Community Support Services among other things! Please do not hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can help you and your child.  HOPE is here!

 Written by Jennifer Cooper MS, LPC, RPT, NCC