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

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

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

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

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.