Over 21 million people worldwide are victims of human trafficking, with more than 800,000 enslaved each year (Human Trafficking, 2021). In the United States, there have been 11,193 reported cases in 2021. Since 2007, there have been a total of 5,557 reported cases in the state of Georgia. That is around 396 human trafficking victims per year in Georgia alone (Georgia, 2021).  

Human Trafficking: is defined as the recruitment and movement of people using deception and coercion for exploitation.  

Over half of human trafficked survivors receive mental health services. The most common mental health problems associated with trafficking can be: 

-Depression 

-Anxiety 

-Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) 

-Self-harm 

-Suicide attempt 

These mental disorders are influenced by pre-trafficking abuse, the duration of exploitation, violence, restriction from movement, a significant number of unmet needs, and no social support.  

As a mental health provider, these are the things to look for in potential trafficking victims: 

  • The client discloses trafficking to a mental health provider 
  • The client has signs of physical and psychological trauma  
  • The client is unable to speak the local language 
  • The client is unable to provide essential identity documents (license, passport, birth certificate) 

Mental health care workers who work with trafficked victims should: 

  • These clients should be routinely asked about current or past experiences of abuse.  
  • Risk Assessment  
  • Safety Plan that includes the risk of re-trafficking 
  • Should explore past emotions such as fearfulness, guilt, shame, hopelessness, anger, easily startled, self-harm, and suicidal ideation.  
  • The treatment for clients who have survived human trafficking should be in line with those clients who have experienced trauma. Evidence-based interventions for PTSD or trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy can help treat survivors of human trafficking. Along with assistance in social, financial, and legal support, help with regulating emotions and coping with dissociation (Altun et al., 2017).

References 

Altun, S., Abas, M., Zimmerman, C., Howard, L. M., & Oram, S. (2017, February 1). Mental health and human trafficking: Responding to survivors’ needs. BJPsych international. Retrieved December 16, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618827/

Georgia. National Human Trafficking Hotline. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2021, from https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/georgia

Human trafficking. Human Rights First. (n.d.). Retrieved December 16, 2021, from https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/topics/human-trafficking

As the year ends, we start to think about the resolutions we want to set for the upcoming year. These resolutions or goals may be for physical health, new habits, finances, or focus on your mental health. Whatever the goal may be, making significant long-lasting change is difficult. When we fail to achieve these goals the first month of the year, we can increase our anxiety and become frustrated with ourselves.  

This New Year’s, we should set realistic, small, manageable goals for the New Year. The goals that we set should be thought-out and prepared with a plan to achieve this goal. A great way to achievable goals for this upcoming year is to use SMART goals.  

S –Specific  

M –Measurable  

A –Achievable 

R –Realistic  

T –Time-Bound 

Specific: Be specific in what you want to accomplish. Use who, what, when, why, and where when thinking about achieving your goal. This is the mission statement for your goal. 

Measurable: Make your goal measurable to track your progress. Ask yourself what metric system can be used to measure your goal? If your goal is a task that may take a few months to accomplish, then set milestones along the way to encourage the completion of the goal.  

Achievable: Set your goal to be achievable and focus on the importance of the goal. Ask yourself what is required to achieve this goal? How will you accomplish this goal? Remember that the goal is to motivate yourself and not discourage you.  

Realistic: Choose a realistic and attainable goal. If your goal is unrealistic such as learning a new language in one week, you are most likely setting yourself up for disappointment. You want to set a realistic goal that you can meet and increase your motivation to accomplish this goal.  

Time-Bound: Provide yourself with a realistic time frame to achieve your goal. If you allow yourself plenty of time to achieve your goal with small target dates along the way, this will increase motivation to meet your target goal (Borenstein, 2020).  

We want to set realistic, small, manageable goals to set ourselves up for success. After deciding on your SMART goal, we want to take the following steps: 

  • Start small: Setting a goal that you can keep.  
  • Change one behavior at a time: Do not get overwhelmed by trying to achieve your goal all at once. If your goal is to stop drinking soda, then start by cutting out one soda a day for a week rather than completely stopping drinking soda.  
  • Talk about your goal: Talk about your goals with family or friends. To help achieve your goal seek out an accountability partner.  
  • Do not beat yourself up: If you happen to take a minor setback, do not beat yourself up over it. Do not give up completely, and remember that perfection is not achievable. Resolve and recover from your mistakes and get back to attaining your goal.  
  • Ask for support: If you become overwhelmed or unable to achieve your goal, consider seeking professional help if needed. Therapy and Client Support Specialists can help you set realistic goals and help you build skills to attain those goals, along with helping you address emotions and unhealthy behaviors that may occur from not being able to achieve a specific goal (American Psychological Association, 2019).  

Resources 

American Psychological Association. (2019). Making your New Year’s resolution stick. American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.apa.org/topics/behavioral-health/new-year-resolutions

Borenstein, J. (2020, March 19). Setting Mental Health Goals for the New Year. Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. Retrieved December 21, 2021, from https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/setting-mental-health-goals-new-year

In the United States, 52.9 million adults experience a mental illness, and 7.7 million youth ages 6 to 17 years old experience a mental health disorder. The most common of these mental health disorders are anxiety disorders. In the United States, over 40 million adults have one or more anxiety disorders. For children ages 3 to 17 years old, 7% have experienced an anxiety disorder (Mental Health Conditions, 2021).  

The four most common types of anxiety disorders are: 

  1. Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This is chronic, exaggerated worrying about everyday life. GAD can cause exhaustion from worry, headaches, tension, and nausea. GAD is the most common type of anxiety disorder. 
  2. Social Anxiety Disorder: This is intense fear about social interaction, often driven by irrational worries about humiliation. Panic attacks are a common reaction to anticipated or forced social interaction.  
  3. Panic Disorder: This is characterized by panic attacks and sudden feelings of terror that sometimes come without warning. A panic attack causes physical symptoms such as chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, shortness of breath, and an upset stomach. 
  4. Phobias: This is where you tend to avoid certain things or situations that make you uncomfortable or even fearful. An individual with a phobia, certain places, events, or objects creates a powerful reaction or strong, irrational fear.  

All anxiety disorders have a unique set of symptoms, but they all have one thing in common: persistent, excessive fear or worry in situations that are not threatening. Other symptoms may include: 

Emotional symptoms: 

  • The feeling of apprehension or dread 
  • Feeling tense or jumpy 
  • Restlessness or irritability 
  • Anticipating the worst and being watchful for signs of danger 

Physical symptoms:  

  • Pounding or racing heart and shortness of breath 
  • Sweating, tremors, and cramps 
  • Headaches, fatigue, and insomnia 
  • Upset stomach  

The cause of anxiety disorders is believed to be a combination of factors. These factors can include genetics, environment, or a combination of both.  

Genetics: Anxiety disorders can run in families. Some families have a higher-than-average amount of anxiety disorders among family members. Therefore, genetics could be the cause of an individual’s anxiety disorder.  

Environment: Stressful or traumatic events such as abuse, death of a loved one, violence, or prolonged illness are linked to the development of an anxiety disorder.  

Treatments that are most common for all anxiety disorders include: 

  • Psychotherapy, which includes cognitive therapy 
  • Medications, including antianxiety and antidepressant medication 
  • Complementary Health Approaches which include stress and relaxation techniques (Anxiety Disorders, 2021).

References 

Anxiety disorders. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Anxiety-Disorders

Mental health conditions. NAMI. (n.d.). Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions

Boundaries are identified as rules or limits that we establish to protect our security and wellbeing around others. We have to identify and express to ourselves and others these boundaries to help us feel safe and secure. Boundaries help create an environment for everyone to be themselves and meet their needs (Coppock, 2021).  

Benefits of Healthy Boundaries 

  • Conserve Emotional Energy: Setting and implementing boundaries will help you conserve your emotional energy and put you in a better mental state.  
  • More Independence and Self-Esteem: Emotional and physical boundaries will help develop autonomy and independence. Maintaining assertiveness about your boundaries will help boost your self-esteem.  
  • Better Relationships: Having the ability to create and maintain boundaries can increase respect in relationships. Relationships with your partner, family, and friends will improve by setting healthy boundaries.  

Examples of Boundaries  

  • Saying “no” without feeling guilt 
  • Taking responsibility for your actions and emotions 
  • Feeling supported by your loved ones 
  • Not feeling responsible for other people’s emotions 
  • Stating physical boundaries 

Four Tips for Practicing Healthy Boundaries 

  1. Be assertive.  

You are using assertive language to state and maintain your boundaries. Assertive language is clear and non-negotiable.  

  1. Learn to say “no.” 

Become comfortable with saying “no” and understand that you can say no without an explanation required. Learning to say “no” is a great way to maintain assertiveness.  

  1. Safeguard your space.  

Set physical and emotional boundaries and communicate these boundaries to your friends and family. Explain your emotions to your friends and family if these boundaries were to be broken.  

  1. Get support if needed.  

If you are struggling with creating and implementing boundaries, reach out to someone you trust or get professional help with creating and establishing these boundaries (Owen, 2021).  

References

Coppock, M. J. (2021, October 6). 8 tips on setting boundaries for your mental health – DBSA. Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Retrieved December 20, 2021, from https://www.dbsalliance.org/support/young-adults/8-tips-on-setting-boundaries-for-your-mental-health/

Owen, M. (2021). Creating and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries. Naomi-Wake. Retrieved 2021, from https://nami-wake.org/creating-and-maintaining-healthy-boundaries/

December 3rd is International Day of People with Disabilities. This is celebrated to recognize and value the diversity of our community and to better understand and learn from the experience of those living with a disability (International Day, 2020)

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, disability is defined by a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities (2021). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that a disability is considered a limit to everyday functions, such as but not limited to walking, hearing, concentration, remembering, or decision making (2020). 

In the United States, 1 in 4 adults have a disability this is an average of 61 million individuals. These adults are 5x as likely to experience frequent mental health distress (CDC, 2021). 

The prevalence of youth with disabilities in the United States is 1 in 10 youth. These youth with disabilities has an increased risk for mental health distress as well (Youth, 2021). 

Mental distress is defined as experiencing 14 or more unhealthy days within a 30-day time period. Frequent mental distress is often associated with poor health behaviors, mental disorders, chronic disease, and limitations in everyday life (CDC, 2021). 

The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health state the following as some of the benefits to mental health services for those with disabilities (CDC, 2021).

∙      Learning and applying knowledge

∙      Managing tasks and demands

∙      Managing domestic life

∙      Establishing and managing interpersonal relationships and interactions

∙      Engaging in major life areas (education, employment, managing money/finances)

∙      Engaging in community, social, and civic life 

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities provide the following services to help individuals improve mental health and daily life function (2021).

·      Assessment and recovery plan: Identify recovery goals

·      Physician services: Provide medication management

·      Nursing services: Monitor health issues

·      Community Support: Skill building and accessing resources within the community

·      Individual, family, and group therapy: Allows individuals the space to discuss their concerns and find solutions

·      Psychosocial rehabilitation: Help teach skills, such as illness management, daily living skills, money management, and obtaining resources 

References 

Disabilities | Youth.gov. (2021). Youth.Gov. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://youth.gov/youth-topics/disabilities 

International Day of People With Disabilities. (2020, October 12). International Day of People with Disabilities | About the Movement. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://idpwd.org/about/ 

Mental Health for All. (2020, November 30). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/features/mental-health-for-all.html 

Mental health for adults. Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. (2021). Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://dbhdd.georgia.gov/be-dbhdd/be-supported/mental-health-adults

People with Disabilities | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021b). National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved November 22, 2021, from https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/People-with-Disabilities

The mental, emotional, and physiological effects of completed suicide can adversely affect many but especially those closest to the individual who completed suicide. Suicide survivors are classified as people who have lost someone they had a close social relationship with when they were alive. Survivors of suicide are at an increased risk for struggling with mental health problems such as depression. Statistics show that survivors of suicide are 1.9 times more likely to develop Major Depressive Disorder and 1.7 times more likely to attempt suicide themselves.

This indicates that increased support is needed for individuals who have lost someone they were close to through a completed suicide. Mental health services such as individual counseling and client support specialist services offered by Georgia HOPE can help a survivor of suicide. It can help them work through their trauma of losing a loved one to completed suicide as well as receive knowledge of coping skills they can utilize when experiencing negative emotions such as sadness, anger, anxiety, etc. The support offered by these services can be beneficial to improving the mental health of those who have experienced a loss due to suicide. 

Resources https://www.jkacap.org/journal/view.html?doi=10.5765/jkacap.200028

 

Kindness builds connection and connection builds community, and with community comes togetherness, which turns to community perseverance. Togetherness is such a great protector of a community’s overall mental health. How do we get there in a society that is so individualized and separate from one another in real time? We start with being bold, intentional, and kind. One popular way that has swept America is to participate in a random act of kindness. This is where a person does something intentionally nice for somebody else, even a stranger, without expecting anything in return. Doing so makes the giver and the recipient feel good and forms a type of connection between the two that didn’t exist prior. This connection can then encourage the recipient to become the giver, and voila!  a pattern of kindness is established in the community. 

Why does kindness matter? Because it builds connection with others by increasing oxytocin, which can lead to increased energy, happiness, even an increased lifespan (Make Kindness the Norm). The kindness cycle keeps going, because when we are kind, it sparks chemicals in our brain, such as pleasure and feel-good chemicals that encourages us to keep going and encourages others to keep going, too. These moments of positive interactions and increase in feel-good brain chemicals serve as protective factors against mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, and even physical ailments such as pain and high blood pressure (Make Kindness the Norm). Kindness matters, because many people have been hurt in relationship with others, and we heal in relationship with others through positive interactions. 

What can you do today to support kindness and togetherness in your community? 

Reference

Make Kindness The Norm. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/the-science-

of-kindness

At this moment, there are 1,501,680 people in Georgia experiencing food insecurity and there are 9,499 people experiencing homelessness in Georgia (About Hunger and Homelessness). Food insecurity means that a person does not have access “to an adequate supply of nutritious, affordable food” (About Hunger and Homelessness). Homelessness means that a person does not have a home of their own. When thinking of people who are experiencing homelessness, some often think of people staying outside or in shelters, but people can also be considered homeless, if they are “couch surfing” or staying in a hotel/motel. Food, water, and shelter are our most basic necessities that make a huge impact on our overall wellbeing. They impact us physically and mentally. Food insecurity and homelessness are correlated with poor health and mental illness. In fact, 20% of the homeless population in America report having a mental illness, with 16% reporting “substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, or heart disease” (About Hunger and Homelessness). 

People experiencing food insecurity or homelessness make difficult decisions everyday regarding basic needs. The stress of these daily decisions can negatively impact mental health by increasing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Food insecurity and homelessness can also present as barriers to accessing adequate medical and mental health care. For example, choosing to pay rent or utilities over purchasing medical care or groceries. A lack of adequate nutrition and healthy coping can lead to maladaptive coping and survival mechanisms. Some people may begin to self-medicate with substances to cope with untreated mental or physical health issues or just daily stress. Some people may also turn to risky behaviors to try to meet their needs. This can become a cycle that leads to barriers of other basic needs, such as transportation, occupation, and socialization. 

A person can experience food insecurity or homelessness for many reasons, but there is a way to help overcome and that is together. If you or someone you know is experiencing food insecurity or homelessness, help is available. We can offer case management and support services to aid with accessing community resources and affordable housing, financial literacy, skills for employment, and healthy coping skills, as well as psychiatric and counseling services for people experiencing substance use or mental illness. 

Children also experience food insecurity and homelessness and their related stress. They may have an increase in physical illness, behavior problems, and difficulty in school, as well as experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Georgia HOPE can support children experiencing these difficulties by providing skills building to increase communication and social skills or coping skills, therapy to aid the child in understanding their emotions and how to regulate themselves, and psychiatric care to address further needs regarding mental health care. We can also support the child and caregiver by advocating and providing educational support by partnering with their school, if needed. 

Together we can aid in overcoming these barriers to increase overall wellbeing and quality of life. 

Reference

About Hunger and Homelessness: Move for Hunger. (n.d.).

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) was launched nationwide in October 1987 as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness for those issues. Over the past 30+ years, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner and 1 in 7 women and 1 in 25 men have been injured by an intimate partner.

Anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels, and all backgrounds. They can be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child’s teacher, a relative, a coworker — anyone. One study found 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home. 

What Traits Do Abusers Have in Common?

There is no one typical, detectable personality of an abuser. However, they do often display common characteristics. 

  • An abuser often denies the existence or minimizes the seriousness of the violence and its effect on the victim and other family members.
  • An abuser objectifies the victim and often sees them as their property or sexual objects.
  • An abuser has low self-esteem and feels powerless and ineffective in the world. He or she may appear successful, but internally, they feel inadequate.
  • An abuser externalizes the causes of their behavior. They blame their violence on circumstances such as stress, their partner’s behavior, a “bad day,” on alcohol, drugs, or other factors.
  • An abuser may be pleasant and charming between periods of violence and is often seen as a “nice person” to others outside the relationship. 

What Are the “Warning Signs” of an Abuser?

Red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Possessiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • A bad temper
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Verbal abuse
  • Extremely controlling behavior
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships
  • Forced sex or disregard of their partner’s unwillingness to have sex
  • Sabotage of birth control methods or refusal to honor agreed upon methods
  • Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
  • Sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school
  • Controls all the finances
  • Abuse of other family members, children or pets
  • Accusations of the victim flirting with others or having an affair
  • Control of what the victim wears and how they act
  • Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
  • Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others
  • Harassment of the victim at work

It’s important to know the signs and seek help! You are not in this alone.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.

HOPE IS HERE

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

References: https://ncadv.org/signs-of-abuse

https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS

https://ncadv.org/

ADHD Overview

What is ADHD? Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) effects 11% of children and is characterized by struggles with inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These issues with attention and focus can perpetuate other concerns such as poor school or job performance, depression, substance abuse, stress, relationship problems, and delinquency.

Early identification is essential to proper treatment of ADHD which is why knowing the symptoms is imperative. Some of the symptoms include not listening, struggling with following instructions, easily distracted, fidgeting, interrupting others, and difficulty waiting. These symptoms can also vary in severity from mild, moderate, to severe depending on how much the symptoms impact a client’s daily functioning.

For children diagnosed with ADHD, more than 75% of them will experience issues as they develop into adulthood. Early intervention is accomplished by understanding ADHD and receiving treatment through mental health services (such as services offered by Georgia HOPE) which are preventative measures that allows individuals experiencing issues with ADHD to lead successful lives.

HOPE IS HERE

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

References: https://chadd.org/about-adhd/overview/