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/

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.).

Adjustment Disorder

Adjustment disorders are characterized by mild to moderate emotional and behavioral needs. These needs can often be felt as depression and/ or anxiety, feeling hopeless, crying, worrying, and irritability.  Individuals experiencing adjustment challenges in their lives can also see increased physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches. These symptoms are commonly seen within the first 3 months of a stressor. While there is no set cause for adjustment disorder, it can be due to one or several stressful events, such as losing a job, moving, marriage, divorce, having a baby, onset of serious or chronic illness, or even the changes, isolation and fears concerning the COVID19 virus. This disorder usually lasts no longer than 6 months once the stressor has ended. Adults can experience adjustment disorder, but it is more frequently diagnosed in children and adolescents (Adjustment Disorders, n.d.; Ramadhan et al., 2020). 

When to seek treatment? 

If you, or someone you love, is experiencing an adjustment or change in life causing difficulty in day-to-day activities and life functioning, please reach out to a professional. Receiving help and support early is essential in preventative care and could lessen the chance that symptoms will be prolonged or worsen.  When symptoms last longer than 6 months, and/or symptoms become more problematic and debilitating, (such as longer lasting depression and anxiety, not enjoying things that you used to like doing, and isolating more), it is strongly recommended that you reach out to mental health professional for support and guidance. Please seek immediate help if you are feeling suicidal.

What about children?

In children and adolescents, adjustment disorder symptoms can include feeling anxious or worried, depressed, hopeless, crying more, sleep difficulty, even increased stomach aches or headaches. They also can include acting out, disregard for rules and norms, being clingier, and having increased irritable moods (Adjustment Disorders, n.d.). 

Children and adolescents can be impacted by similar stressors as noted for adults above. Returning to school, post pandemic, is a stressor for students this coming school year (Ramadhan et al., 2020). Students have persevered during the past year and a half and adjusted from going to school every day, to quarantine, to virtual learning, school ending early, social distancing, teachers and friends wearing masks, hybrid learning, and now most returning to school for in-person learning with some restrictions. Not only have children persevered changes at school, but they have persevered changes at home as well, such as guardian’s work schedules and work place and who supervises the children when guardians are at work and the children home. Many students have adjusted well with the changes; however, some children may have difficulty adjusting and may be experiencing some increased reactive behaviors, such as acting out, and changes in mood.

When to seek treatment for children with symptoms of adjustment disorder?

Similar to adults, when symptoms occur within 3 months of the stressor, last longer than 6 months and/or the symptoms become more problematic and debilitating such as longer lasting depression and anxiety, loss of interest in playing by themselves or with others, loss of interest in extracurricular activities, increased behavioral outbursts and mood changes, or not wanting to go to school, it is time to seek support. If your child is experiencing these or similar symptoms, therapeutic services could be beneficial in assisting your child in feeling more secure and adjusting with recent stressors. Please seek immediate help if you’re student is feeling suicidal.

Reference

Adjustment Disorders. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/

conditions-and-diseases/adjustment-disorders 

Ramadhan, M., Putri, A. K., Melinda, D., Habibah, U., Fajriyah, U. N., Aini, S., Prananjaya, B. A., & Ikhsan, D. S. (2020). Children’s Mental Health in the Time of COVID-19: How Things Stand and the Aftermath. The Malaysian journal of medical sciences : MJMS, 27(5), 196–201. https://doi.org/10.21315/mjms2020.27.5.15

HOPE IS HERE

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