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

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 (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

Self-esteem is defined as the overall opinion of yourself. This is determined by the feelings you have towards your abilities and your limitations. Everyone has a self-esteem, but each person differentiates between low or just right self-esteem. 

Low self-esteem is characterized as ones focus on perceived weaknesses and faults and they give no or little lack of credit to their skills or assets. 

Healthy self-esteem is characterized as a good balance and accurate view of self and has a good opinion of abilities but also recognizes their faults. 

Most individuals fall between the range of low and healthy self-esteem, but there are a significant number of individuals who battle with low self-esteem. 

So, how can we boost self-esteem so that healthy self-esteem is attainable? 

Here are four steps to take to achieve healthy self-esteem:

  1. Identify troubling conditions: think about the conditions or situation that tend to deflate your self-esteem. 

Some common influences of self-esteem can be:

-Your thoughts and perceptions

-How others react to you

-Experiences at home, school, work, and in the community

-Illnesses, disability, or injury

-Age

-Role and status in society

-Media messages 

  1. Become aware of thoughts: Once you have identified the troubling condition(s), pay attention to your thoughts about them. 

Ask yourself, is what I am thinking true? Would you say these thoughts to a friend? If the thoughts you are having is something that you would not say to a friend then you should not say them to yourself. 

  1. Challenge negative thinking: Initial thoughts may not be the only way to view a situation. 

You want to ask yourself if your thoughts line up with the facts of the situation? Is there other explanation to the situation other than my initial thought? 

  1. Adjust your thoughts and beliefs: Replace negative or inaccurate thoughts with accurate and constructive thoughts.

-Adjust your negative thoughts to positive ones

-Use encouraging words to yourself 

-Forgive yourself if applicable 

Once healthy self-esteem has been attained then we can enjoy the benefits. 

Benefits of healthy self-esteem include: 

  • Able to form secure and honest relationships
  • Assertive in expressing your needs and opinions
  • Confident in your ability to make decisions
  • Realistic in your expectations and less likely to be overcritical with yourself
  • Resilient and better able to weather stress and setbacks 

And most importantly to feel good, secure, and increased self-worth (Mayo, 2020). 

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, July 14). Does your self-esteem need a boost? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved January 17, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20047976

Did you know that there were approximately 14,000 children in foster care in the state of Georgia last year? Two thousand seven hundred forty of these children have a foster home with the intent to adopt. Out of those children, there are 350 children in need of a safe and loving home. 

Do you find yourself considering adoption? Think about how you would be impacting a child’s life by welcoming them into your home. While some children were given to the state voluntarily by their parents, there are many cases where children were removed from their homes. This could be due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. By adopting a child, you are giving HOPE to younger generations. You are making a difference, one child at a time. For more information, visit https://dfcs.georgia.gov/services/adoption.

Building a bond with an adopted child can be challenging but not impossible. So how do you build attachment with a new child or adolescent? First, be mindful that it will take time to happen naturally, so do not set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Some helpful ways to encourage bonding include creating routines, playing, taking a family photo, or establishing permanency. With a bit of creativity and perseverance, you can create the connection you both desire.

References: https://www.adoptuskids.org/adoption-and-foster-care/how-to-adopt-and-foster/state-information/georgia
https://mljadoptions.com/blog/eight-attachment-techniques-to-use-with-your-adopted-child-20140820

Written by: Taylor Luczynski

At Georgia HOPE, we believe in the strengthening of the family unit. We do so by providing affordable services to individuals and their families. More specifically, we offer parent skills training, individual/family counseling, and group counseling. With these services, we can assist you in meeting identified goals for yourself and your family. Whatever your need may be, we are here for your benefit. Georgia HOPE can also connect you to resources within your community based on need. For more information regarding our services, visit https://gahope.org/our-services/

Spending quality time with family is an inaugural part of child and adolescent development. Did you know that spending 15 short minutes a day with your child can lead to happier and healthier well-being? It can be as simple as watching a movie, playing a game, or baking cookies. Studies have shown that children are less likely to engage in risky behaviors such as drug and alcohol use when they have more quality time with family. Children who engage in quality time regularly are less likely to experience behavioral issues at home and school. Children who have spent time with their families are more confident in themselves to succeed mentally and emotionally. 


Reference: https://extension.sdstate.edu/why-spending-quality-time-your-children-important

Written by: Taylor Luczynski

Grief (Pregnancy and Infant Loss)

Everyone grieves differently and in their own way. Grief is a difficult emotion and the healing process can take time, especially when it comes to grieving our loved ones such as losing an infant before or after birth.

Grief can be overwhelming and you can experience a multitude of other emotions such as anger, sadness, depression, or guilt. You can also experience somatic symptoms such as stomach aches, susceptibility to getting colds, and trouble concentrating on tasks. Healing from one’s death, especially a baby’s, can look like a different process for women, men, and children but supporting one another’s grieving process is essential as well as reaching out for help. There are several resources available that can help provide support to women, men, and children struggling with grief including grief after the loss of an infant.

A medical provider can help individuals find treatment, a social worker can help provide support with bills and expenses, and a grief counselor can help an individual work through their grief. While these services can provide support, it is also important for you to engage in self-care especially when recovering from pregnancy. Self-care can include eating regularly with plenty of vegetables and protein, exercising daily, and sleeping for eight hours at night. Grief can largely affect mental health which is why it is so important to reach out for help!

HOPE IS HERE

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

References: https://www.marchofdimes.org/complications/dealing-with-grief-after-the-death-of-your-baby.aspx

August is Family Fun Month! Georgia HOPE offers an array of services to meet the individualized needs of our clients, families and communities.  Today we would like to highlight the services we provide for the family. Georgia HOPE offers family training and family counseling. The goal of family services includes: strengthening family relationships, providing psychoeducation and providing linkage to community resources. Our primary goal is to meet our clients, and their families, where they are in life and walk with them through the varying changes and challenges life can bring.  Family services offers, not just support for the client experiencing the mental health or substance use need, but offers support, education, and counseling to the family as well!  We wholeheartedly believe recovery is possible for everyone!  

Our Social Services team also offers parent training and behavior aide services. Developing healthy, functional and strong families is the main objectives of parent training. Behavioral aide services assist by providing transportation and additional support for families. Through our family training and counseling services, families can learn how to navigate life’s challenges. These challenges may include: barriers in communication, navigating social media, how parents can support their LGBQT+ teens, bullying, and establishing rules and boundaries. 

Georgia HOPE’s motto is “Hope lives here“!  We aim to provide hope to our families and individuals within the community. 

Additional Resources:

5 Ways Parents Can Support LGBTQ Teens | Newport Academy

Adolescent Mental Health During COVID-19 | Newport Academy

Why Is My Teen So Angry and How Can I Help? | Newport Academy

HOPE is Here

If you or anyone you know could benefit from family services, we’d love to speak to you further. HOPE is here. Contact us today.