What is Compassion Fatigue?

Second-hand shock or secondary stress caused by helping others who have suffered trauma or have significant emotional distress. It is often caused by empathy and can imitate symptoms of Post Traumatic stress disorder.

What isn’t Compassion Fatigue?

Fake or made up; “ALL IN YOUR HEAD”

Compassion fatigue is caused by empathy. It is the natural consequence of stress resulting from caring for and helping traumatized or suffering people.

Some other terms you should know…

Vicarious Trauma: Negative transformation in the helper that results from empathic engagement with traumatized individuals, which leads to a reduced sense of spirituality, meaning and hope.

Secondary Traumatic Stress: Individuals become traumatized not by experiencing a traumatic event, but by hearing about it. Can cause symptoms of PTSD including intrusive images, hyper-arousal, distressing emotions, and functional impairment.

Who Experiences Compassion Fatigue?

  • Emergency Workers
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Hospice Staff
  • First Responders
  • Journalists
  • Clergy
  • Social Service Workers
  • Family Members

Who is most at risk? Those who…

  • have a personal history of trauma
  • extend themselves beyond good boundaries of self-care or professional conduct
  • have high caseloads of domestic violence, trauma survivors, sexually/physically abused children
  • have little experience as a social worker
  • have had too much experience as a social worker
  • are experiencing too many negative outcomes

What are symptoms of compassion fatigue?

  • You are falling asleep in meetings, appointments, or sessions.
  • You are dreading an activity you normally enjoy.
  • People keep telling you that you seem “moody”.
  • You cancel appointments more than you keep them.
  • You have a headache….almost daily.
  • There is never enough sleep to be had.
  • Your body aches more than usual.
  • You find yourself becoming emotional with clients, coworkers, or family
    members (empathy turns to sympathy)
  • You hate your job!
  • You are considering that you may not be good at what you do!!

Other symptoms may include:

  • Grief
  • Panic attacks
  • Resentment
  • Memory problems
  • Nightmares
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Apathy
  • Isolation
  • Poor hygiene

Breaking the Cycle

  • Meditate…breathe!!! Deep breathing can promote physical and emotional wellness by decreasing stress and increasing immune system.
  • Creativity is key! Find ways to use your creativity and do something you like. Hobbies can be helpful such as hiking, planting, cooking, or even coloring!
  • Everyone needs to vent! Find a person to vent to that you trust and are comfortable being emotionally vulnerable with.

Addressing Compassion Fatigue


  • What types of cases contribute to your stress level increasing your
    vulnerability to compassion fatigue?
  • Take a look at the symptoms of compassion fatigue. Are you aware
    of any of the listed issues or contributing factors in your workday? If
    so, you could be at risk of compassion fatigue.
  • Take a screening inventory: www.proqol.org (Professional quality of
    life information, including compassion fatigue/burnout Professional
    Quality of Life Scale self-test)

Practical Steps: Day to day routines that help break the cycle of
compassion fatigue

  • Sleep adequately…your brain needs a break too. According to studies on Healthguide.org, average adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Eat three balanced meals a day. Balanced nutrition increases energy and levels of concentration.
  • Establish a routine at home and at work and stick with that routine. Consistency helps to create stability.
  • Ask for help when you need it. Express your needs verbally and take positive steps towards changing your environment.
  • Educate yourself on compassion fatigue: http://www.proqol.org/ProQol_Test.html

Keep Balance in Your Life

  • List one mini-escape or diversion that worked well to restore and renew you
  • List one thing that brings you joy
  • Name 3 things you feel grateful for today
  • Think of something that has brought you a sense of joy (Make your top ten list)
  • Who do you love that you can reach out to today? (Call them!)
  • What made you laugh today? (Share it!)
  • Have quiet alone time in a calm, beautiful place- a safe retreat where you feel renewed
  • Have an awareness of what restores and replenishes you.
  • Find ways to acknowledge loss and grief
  • Stay clear with commitment to career goals or your personal mission
  • Know how to focus on what you can control
  • Look at situations as entertaining challenges and opportunities, not problems or stresses

Healthy Boundaries

  • Practicing the art of self-management. “No” is a complete sentence.
  • Developing a healthy support system: people who contribute to your self esteem, people who listen well, people who care
  • Organizing your life so you become proactive as opposed to reactive
  • Reserving your life energy for worthy causes. Choose your battles.
  • Living a balanced life: Sing, dance, sit with silence

Mindfulness and Meditation

  • Developing attention to the present moment and context
  • Attunement – Demonstrating awareness and acceptance of unpleasant or painful emotions, building the capacity to tolerate such emotions in oneself.
  • Egalitarianism – Reminding professionals and staff that they do not hold all of the answers to questions that clients face in the aftermath of a traumatic loss.

Build Connections

  • Talk out your stress- process your thoughts and reactions with someone else (coworker, therapist, clergy, friend, family, supervisor)
  • Build a positive support system that supports you, not fuels your stress
  • Pets accept whatever affection you are able to give them without asking for more. Blood pressure and heart rate decrease when interacting with animals

Don’t give up! You are in the helping profession because you are a helper. Don’t give up on your purpose but find a way to achieve balance. #HOPEisHere


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some further mental health resources to check out: 

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

Want to Talk?

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

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

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


If you’re interested, here’s a list of ways/tips to support and help LGBTQ-owned small businesses: https://www.finimpact.com/support-lgbtq-owned-small-businesses/


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

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

What Services Are Available?

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

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

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

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

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

Individuals and Families

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

  • Adults
  • Children
  • Teens
  • Couples
  • Families

Community Partners

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

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

School Partners

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

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

How Can You Pay for Services at Georgia HOPE?

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

What Are the Next Steps?

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

shadow pandemic

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, anxiety and depression are rising. There are many concerns being raised about what is being called the “shadow pandemic,” a mental health crisis caused from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress registered a more than 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year. Last month, roughly 20,000 people texted that hotline, run by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In the United States, 1 in 5 adults endure the consequences of mental illness each year.

The uncertainty, the isolation, the anxiety, the change to our “normal,” is causing a mental strain on everyone. Increased depression, anxiety, substance use, trauma, suicide, domestic violence, the list goes on. But it doesn’t have to turn into this “shadow pandemic’ because help is here. Just like going to a doctor for a medical health issue, speaking to a licensed professional for a mental health issue is just as important.

Anyone who has had experience with mental illness, personally or professionally, can tell you that despite advances in psychiatry and psychology, a great deal of stigma remains. The stigma associated with mental illness can be divided into two types: social stigma, which involves the prejudiced attitudes others have around mental illness; and self-perceived stigma, which involves an internalized stigma the person with the mental illness suffers from. And both are very real. We have to break the stigma. If you are struggling with mental health issues, you are not alone. If you aren’t struggling with any mental health issues personally, educate people around you about the reality that mental illness is more common than people realize and speak out against stigma. Mental health matters.


If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, mental illness, drug and alcohol addictions, or an eating disorder, you don’t have to go through this alone. Georgia HOPE has virtual, online, programs, so that you can get the support you need.

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

If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us to start the first steps or call us at 706-279-0405.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.

We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere

online therapy

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

Here are some things you may want to know! 

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

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

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

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

TeleMental Health offers:

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

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

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

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



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

mental health

Did you know May is Mental Health Awareness Month? Due to COVID-19, it’s easy to feel a little down. Weddings are postponed, graduation parties are cancelled, smiles are covered by masks, and a hug is frowned upon. Our mental health is at as high of risk as our physical health during this pandemic, so we’re sharing some tips to focus on your mental well-being.

Here are some excellent ways to take care of your mental health this week!

  1. Prioritize your sleep.  Proper sleep helps regulate chemicals in your brain and allows your brain to rest and your immune system to recharge.   You may find it helpful to shut down all electronics an hour before bed, and spend some time reading or listening to music or background noise to wind down.
  2. Eat well. Mineral deficiencies can contribute to low moods.  Several studies show a connection between the Mediterranean approach (which is high in omega-3, vitamin B, vitamin D, healthy fats, and antioxidants) and mental health.  It includes mood boosting foods such as fatty fish rich in Omega 3 (salmon or tuna), nuts (cashews, walnuts, and almonds), legumes, and leafy greens (brussels sprouts, spinach, or kale).
  3. Avoid drugs and excessive use of alcohol. Drugs and alcohol are depressants. Avoid using these substances for your overall mental and physical health and well being.
  4. Get in the sun. Sunlight synthesizes vitamin D, which releases endorphins and serotonin.  Remember the sunscreen and spend 30 minutes outside every day.
  5. Do something you enjoy for no other reason than it makes you feel good. Sing along to the radio, play with your pet, watch a favorite tv show, start on a backyard project. 
  6. Connect with others. Face to face is not always possible, but social distancing is more about physical distance.  Maintaining connection with friends and family is still important to avoid feeling the loneliness and isolation.   Fortunately, we are in a time where we can reach out with FaceTime, Snapchat, a text, or a call.   You could also try sending a card or a letter to let someone know you’re thinking about them.  
  7. Do something for others. Helping others increases your sense of value and sense of community.   While there are some organizations needing volunteers right now, this could also be something as simple as holding the door for someone or giving a compliment.  
  8. Focus on the positive. How you think often affects how you feel.  At this current time many of us feel stressed, anxious and scared.  One way to manage these thoughts is to focus on what you can control – washing your hands, practicing social distancing, avoiding unnecessary trips out.  Try writing something you are grateful for each day.   It could be something overall like family or health, or it could be something specific to that day like your son set the table for dinner or you enjoyed the scented candle you lit.   You could also add one thing you accomplished that day.  These little gratitudes and accomplishments add up over time.  
  9. Activity and exercise.  This does not have to look like working out in the gym or on a Peloton.   Even walking through your neighborhood or in the woods or following along with a yoga video on YouTube can help lower your stress levels and increase endorphins.
  10. Manage your stress. Make a list of the situations that increase your stress response and identify ways that will help you cope when stress and anxiety symptoms escalate.  
  11. Remember to take a break.  If you need to step away from the mess in the kitchen, the work emails, or the online schooling assignment, do it.   Try an easy breathing exercise (take 10 breaths, in for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, and exhale for the count of 4).  Listen to a favorite song.  Stretch.  If prayer is important to you, make time for it now.  Listen to a short, guided meditation on the phone apps Calm or Headspace.   Just a few minutes away can give you a new perspective for the task at hand.
  12. Laugh and smile.  We’ve heard laughter is good for the soul, but according to several studies, science has shown that smiling can lift your mood, lower stress, lower your blood pressure, and boost your immune system.   So, watch a comedy, check out cute animal videos online, or listen to funny podcasts.  
  13. Ask for help.  If things get to be too much for you, ask for help.   No one has this whole thing figured out.   Ask your partner to wash and fold that load of laundry.   Ask your kids to help with the dinner.   Call a friend and tell them you need to talk.  Ask your boss to prioritize your workload.   

If you’re struggling with a mental health condition, you might feel alone. No one in your inner social circle has dealt with this problem, at least to your knowledge. Is something wrong with me? you might think. Why can’t I just be normal? Should thoughts like these ever pop into your mind, remember: Conditions like these are fairly common, and luckily, it’s easy to treat many of them. Below are a handful of illustrative statistics regarding mental health in America:

1 in 5: This is the number of Americans who experience a mental health problem each year.
9.8 million: This is the number of American adults who have a serious mental health disorder. This translates to roughly one in 25 adults.
6.9%: This is the number of adults with major depression in the U.S.
18.1%: This is the number of adults with anxiety disorders in the U.S.
No. 1: Across the world, depression is the leading cause of disability.
2 to 1: Women are twice as likely to experience major depression as men.

The following are results from the annual Stress in America survey conducted by the APA:

74%: The number of adults who said they had a physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the previous month.
91%: The number of Gen Zers (ages 15 to 21) who said they had a physical or emotional symptom due to stress in the previous month.
1 in 5: The number of adults who don’t feel as though they do enough to manage their stress.
64%: The number of adults who feel stressed by work.
63%: The number of adults who feel stress because of health concerns.
64%: The number of adults who feel stress due to money.
48%: The number of adults who feel stress due to the state of the economy.

Resource: www.success.com  

So remember, if you feel like you’re struggling with some mental health issues – you are not alone. And you shouldn’t have to suffer alone!

If you are currently receiving mental health or substance use services stay the course. Due to COVID-19, the federal government has expanded access to Teletherapy through video chat, Telehealth, and Telephonic appointments.

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia via TeleMental Health. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can submit a referral online to us or call 706-279-0405.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services, please contact us here.

We are all in this together. Stay well! #HOPEisHere