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

Some individuals self-harm as a way to:

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

-change emotional pain into physical pain

-reduce overwhelming feelings

-punish themselves for their feelings and experiences

-express suicidal feelings and thoughts without taking their own life

Ways individuals self-harm: 

-cutting yourself

-over-eating or under-eating

-biting yourself

-hitting yourself or walls

-pulling your hair

-picking or scratching at your skin

How to overcome self-harm:

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

Urges can include:

-strong emotions like sadness or anger

-racing heart or feelings of heaviness

-disconnection from yourself or a loss of sensation

-unhealthy decisions, like working too hard to avoid feelings 

-repetitive thoughts about harming yourself

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

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

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

Resources

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

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

What is Bipolar Disorder?

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

Types of Bipolar:

  • Bipolar I 

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

  • Bipolar II

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

  • Cyclothymic

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

Types of Episodes:

  • Manic

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

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

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

  • Hypomanic

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

  • Major Depressive

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

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

Treatment:

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

Resources:

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

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

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

Sleep is important not only for physical health but mental health as well. Sleep has close links to several mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and several others. The relationship between sleep and mental health is bidirectional, meaning insufficient sleep can promote or worsen mental health conditions just as mental health conditions can cause insufficient sleep (Mental Health and Sleep, 2020).

Sleep is the time for your body and mind to rest and recharge. Sleep is important because this is when your emotional processing takes place. 

Insufficient sleep can cause:

-Emotional Instability

-Effects on Mood

-Increased Sensitivity

-Irritability

-Increased Cortisol Levels = Increased Stress (Sleep and Mental Health, 2022)

Mental health benefits of sleep include:

  • Good sleep can help with mental illnesses

Mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression along with several others can cause insomnia. Good sleep can combat insomnia decrease levels of anxiety and depression. 

  • Sleep can improve attention

When you become sleep deprived your reaction time decreases, but having good Uninterrupted sleep will help improve alertness and attention. This is especially important for those who already experience a deficit in attention, such as ADHD.

  •  Sleep can improve memory and learning 

 Sleep is the time your brain stores the information that was learned during the day. Lack of sleep can interrupt this process and cause easier memory loss the day after. For example, lack of sleep can cause one to make silly mistakes like forgetting to grab your lunch or lock your car door (Benefits of Sleep, 2021). 

Resources 

Mental health and sleep. Sleep Foundation. (2020, September 18). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health

Sleep and mental health: Why our brains need sleep. Primary Care Collaborative. (2022, February 16). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.pcpcc.org/resource/sleep-and-mental-health-why-our-brains-need-sleep

Three surprising mental health benefits of sleep. SuicideLine Victoria. (2021, June 29). Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://suicideline.org.au/mental-health/three-surprising-mental-health-benefits-of-sleep/

Developmental Disabilities are severe and long-term problems. These disabilities can range from mental disability to physical disability or both. 

Physical disabilities include: blindness, hearing loss, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, etc. 

Mental disabilities include: anxiety disorders, depressive disorder, personality disorders, etc.

Developmental disabilities can also present both physical and mental disabilities, such as, down syndrome (U.S. National Library, 2021)

  • Approximately 15% of children age 3-17, or 1 in 6 children, in the U.S. has some type of developmental disability
  • Many children and adults have more
    than one type of intellectual or developmental disability.
    Each likely to result in a variety of challenges requiring different types of care and services
  • Recent estimates show there are approximately 4.92 million individuals in the U.S. living with an intellectual disability, which is about 17% of the U.S. population
  • Children from families with low income have higher prevalence of intellectual/developmental disabilities
  • People with intellectual and developmental disabilities have been shown to have poorer health and poorer access to health care
  • Males have been shown to have twice the prevalence of any developmental disability than females
  • It is estimated that 30-35% of all
    people with intellectual or developmental disabilities also have a psychiatric disorder (statistics, 2016)

Resources

Statistics. The Achievable Foundation. (2016, March 21). Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://achievable.org/developmental-disabilities/statistics/

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2021, November 9). Developmental disabilities. MedlinePlus. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://medlineplus.gov/developmentaldisabilities.html

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

In the United States, 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime first experienced these forms of violence by a partner before the age of 18-year-old. 

Teen Dating Violence (TDV) is when an intimate partner behaves in physical, sexual, psychological violence or stalking behaviors. 

1 in every 11 females and 1 in every 14 male High School students report having experienced physical dating violence.

1 in every 8 females and 1 in every 26 male High School students report having experienced sexual dating violence. 

  • Physical Violence: hitting, kicking, pushing
  • Sexual Violence: forcing a partner to take part in a sexual act 
  • Psychological Violence: Name-calling, insulting, threatening 
  • Stalking: repeatedly unwanted or threatening phone calls and messages and/or showing up unwanted. 

Teens who are or have been victims of teen dating violence are more likely to:

  • Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Engage in unhealthy behaviors (Tabacco, alcohol, drugs)
  • Exhibit antisocial behaviors like lying, theft, bullying, or hitting
  • Think about or commit suicide (CDC, 2021)

How to prevent teen dating violence:

  • Look for warning signs: if someone you know starts having multiple injuries, a decrease in motivation, drop in grades, or loss interest in activities could be a result of dating violence.
  • Act on warning signs: if you notice warning signs, act on them. Speak to the individual about getting help through talking to an adult or seeking counsel. As well as using resources such as dating violence hotlines. 
  • Be supportive: it is important for the individual to feel loved and supported, especially when they have been in an abusive relationship.
  • Educate: it is important for teens to be educated and understand what teen dating violence is and the impacts it can have on well-being. It is also important for teens to be educated on the resources available if they experience dating violence. 

Teen violence does not just occur face to face. Teens can experience dating violence through internet services as well (Taylor et al., 2016)

If you or someone you know is experiencing teen dating violence please get help right away. 

Love is Respect National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline 

Call: 1-866-331-9474  or  TTY 1-866-331-8453

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE

Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 5). Preventing teen dating violence |violence prevention|injury Center|CDC. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 17, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teendatingviolence/fastfact.html

Male survivor guide to help men find support and overcome the trauma caused by abuse or assault

https://www.innerbody.com/resource-guide-for-male-survivors-of-abuse-sexual-assault-and-trauma

Dating violence prevention. Dating Violence Prevention | Youth.gov. (n.d.). Retrieved January 19, 2022, from https://youth.gov/youth-topics/teen-dating-violence

Taylor, Maralyn, Kimani, Hannah, & Antoilyn. (2016, February 5). 5 ways to prevent teen dating violence. URGE. Retrieved January 19, 2022, from https://urge.org/5-ways to-prevent-teen-dating-violence/

A healthy relationship is feeling happy and satisfied in a relationship between you and another person. 

Individuals who are in a healthy relationship experience:

-respect                                    -open communication

-trust                                        -shared values

-emotional support                 -care

-understanding                        -both shared and individual interests

People who are in a healthy relationship are less likely to experience physical and mental health problems due to feeling happier and more satisfied with their lives. Being in a healthy relationship can help increase self-worth, give confidence, and brings a support for trying new things

How to achieve a healthy relationship?

  • Healthy communication: 

-set aside time to speak with one another

-be specific and clear in your communication

-listen to one another and ask for explanation if needed

-let one another finish speaking before giving your point of view

-try not to be defensive

-stay calm and do not attack 

-say sorry when you are wrong

  • Respect one another:

-be affectionate 

-show appreciation 

-set time aside to spend with each other

-know and respect each other’s boundaries

  • Make the relationship priority 

-keep a healthy balance with work, friends, family

-learn how to say “no” if needed to make time for your relationship

  • Develop shared interest

-do not just do all things one person enjoys

-find shared hobbies

-explore new hobbies with one another 

  • Find solutions that work for both of you

-conflict is going to occur but accept each of your differences and similarities

-compromise will be required from both individuals at different times

Achieving and maintaining a healthy relationship takes time and effort to achieve but there is no greater pleasure than to be happy and satisfied in your relationship (Healthdirect, 2021). 

People who are in an unhealthy relationship may experience:

  • Lack of communication
  • Jealousy 
  • Dishonesty
  • Manipulation
  • Disrespect
  • Controlling behavior
  • Constant fighting 

If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship that turns abusive, please reach out for help (Healthy vs. Unhealthy relationships, 2020). 

National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1.800.799.7233

Georgia’s Domestic Violence Hotline is 1.800.334.2836

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911

Resources 

Healthdirect Australia. (n.d.). Building and maintaining healthy relationships. healthdirect. Retrieved January 21, 2022, from https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/building-and-maintaining-healthy-relationships

Healthy vs. unhealthy relationships. Counseling Center. (2020, April 15). Retrieved January 24, 2022, from https://counseling.sa.ua.edu/resources/healthy-vs-unhealthy-relationships/

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