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

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

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

What Traits Do Abusers Have in Common?

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

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

What Are the “Warning Signs” of an Abuser?

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

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

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

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

HOPE IS HERE

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

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

https://ncadv.org/STATISTICS

https://ncadv.org/

Voices of Georgia’s Chilren report the number of children who visited the emergency room for reasons related to suicide doubled between 2008-2018. Voices of Georgia’s Children also report 77,878 students from sixth grade to twelfth grade considered committing suicide in 2019.61,978 students reported harming themselves. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death behind unintentional injury for children ages 10-17 in Georgia. 

What leads to suicide?

There is no single cause of suicide. The Covid-19 pandemic has caused many to feel isolated and alone. Suicide may be caused by untreated mental health disorders, anxiety, traumatic events, and substance use.Suicide may also be caused by feelings of hopelessness and despair. Other risk factors include previous history of suicide attempts, environment, bullying, stressful life events, access to lethal means such as firearms or drugs, and sensationalized accounts of suicide.

Warning Signs

Suicide warning signs  include a change behavior, giving away items, sudden social engagement, sudden isolation, constant talk about committing suicide, and increased use substances such as drugs or alcohol. Other warning signs include a change in mood. This may appear as depression, irritability, agitation, loss of interest, anger, humiliation and shame. 

How can you help?

Talking with someone who is considering suicide is not easy. Asking about suicidal thoughts or feelings won’t push someone into doing something self-destructive. In fact, offering an opportunity to talk about feelings may reduce the risk of acting on suicidal feelings.You can ask direct questions such as: “are you thinking about ending your life”, or “do you have access to lethal weapons or substances.” It is important to use supportive language such as “how can I help you” instead of making the person feel ashamed for having those feelings. You can provide the Suicide Hotline number 1-800-273-8255 or dial 911 in an emergency situation. Please don’t try to handle the situation alone, reach out to a professional individual that can provide adequate help and ensure the safety of the individual.

Source: Georgia Voices of Children

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.

selfcare

When you’re busy and overwhelmed, it’s easy to put yourself last. However, there’s no rule that says you must carry the weight of the world on your shoulders—in fact, in these moments, it’s important to take a step back, be kind to and take care of yourself.

Why Self-Care Matters

It’s so important to make sure you take good care of your body, mind, and soul every day, not just when you get sick. Learning how to eat right, reduce stress, exercise regularly, and take a time-out when you need it are touchstones of self-care and can help you stay healthy, happy, and mentally strong.

Why Do We Often Fail at Self-Care?

Practicing self-care isn’t always easy. Most of us are busy, place the need’s of our families first, have stressful jobs, or are too consumed with technology to make time for ourselves. Me-time is usually last on the agenda. Worse, we can sometimes feel guilty about taking the time required to take care of ourselves (parent guilt is a real thing). So getting started with self-care can be challenging. 

How Do You Engage in Self-Care?

There are many things you can do to engage in self-care and self-care looks different for everyone. The goal is to figure out which self-care strategies work best for you, learn how to use these strategies, and implement them in your regular routine so you can boost your well-being not only today but forever.

Here are 18 ways to get started with your self-care.

1. Get enough sleep.

Sleep can have a huge effect on how you feel both emotionally and physically. Not getting enough can even cause major health issues. It seems simple enough and, yet, 40 percent of Americans get less than seven hours of sleep a night, according to a 2013 Gallup poll. Healthy adults should average seven to nine hours of shut-eye per night.

2. Move your body daily as part of your self-care routine. 

Getting in at least 30 minutes of some kind of exercise—whether it’s a work out or just stroll outside—is just as good for your mental health as it is your physical. You don’t have to do it all at once either take three 10-minute strolls if you can’t do a full half hour. The most important thing is to create a routine that works for you.

3. Eat right for self-care. 

The food we eat has the potential to either keep us healthy or contribute to weight gain, but it can also keep our minds working and alert. Some of the best self-care foods include fatty fish, blueberries, nuts, green leafy veggies, and broccoli.

4. Say no to others, and say yes to your self-care. 

Learning to say no is really hard. Many of us feel obligated to say yes when someone asks for that dinner date. However, if you’re already stressed or overworked, saying yes to everyone can lead to burnout, anxiety, and irritability. It may take a little practice, but once you learn how to politely say no, you’ll start to feel more self-confident, and you’ll have more time for your self-care and prioritizing what matters.

5. Take a self-care break by getting outside. 

Spending time outside can help you reduce stress, lower your blood pressure, and be more mindful. Studies have even shown that getting outside can help reduce fatigue, making it a great way to overcome symptoms of depression or burnout. Getting outside can also help you sleep better at night, especially if you do some physical activity, like gardening, hiking, or walking while you are outside.

6. Let a pet help you with your self-care.  

From giving unconditional love to providing companionship, pets can be hugely beneficial for our self-care. Dogs especially can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety and can even lower blood pressure. In fact, many people who suffer from disorders like PTSD have benefited from working daily with animals, which is why service dogs have become so helpful for these individuals.

7. Take care of yourself by getting organized. 

If you feel unorganized at home or in your work space, your life can often feel organized at times. Getting organized allows you to take better care of yourself. A small change, like keeping a planner or a calendar on the fridge, can help you write down all your responsibilities and appointments, while at the same time keeping your life a bit more organized.

8. Make a menu for the week / Cook at home to care for yourself.

Many people don’t take the time to make themselves meals due to the time it takes but making a healthy meal for yourself and family is not only beneficial for your health but also gives you some quality family time. Even if it’s only once a week, consider making a healthy meal for yourself or your whole family. You could even look into a meal delivery service or meal kit that can help you get started. Meal prepping / making a menu for the week is also helpful so you have a plan in place, can get the items needed ahead of time, and don’t feel stressed daily wondering what’s for dinner.

9. Read a book.

We tend to turn to our phones or TV for entertainment, scrolling through news feeds that can contribute to our stress and anxiety rather than helping it. Instead, consider reading a book. You might be amazed at the difference it can make when you slow down instead of always looking at your phone. Not only can it help improve your mood, but it can also help you to stay more present and mindful.

10. Schedule your self-care time.

It can be hard for us all to find extra time. But it’s extremely important to plan regular self-care time. Schedule a time in your day whether it’s in the morning before everyone gets up, at night, on your lunch break, or right when you get home from work for your self-care time.

11. Write down five things every day that you’re thankful for.

No matter how bad your day is, we all have something to be grateful for – a house, car, health, family, job, dog, etc. Focusing on what you’re grateful for can help put things into perspective—and not put so much emphasis on the stress you might be dealing with.

12. Have a mini dance party.

Our lives are so busy and scheduled these days that it’s important to remember to have some fun! Have a dance party with your kids in the living room. Plan a pizza, popcorn and movie night with your kids at home. Do something fun.

13. Take five minutes to decompress every day.

It’s important to take time to just breathe. Just closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for 5 minutes is a great form of self-care and relaxation.

14. Confront your negativity—on paper.

Journaling is a great way of self-care. Writing down the self-doubt, negative talk and combatting that of what you know to be true and what you’re capable of helps acknowledge the negative while not letting it overtake the positives in your life.

15. Have a family dinner.

Having a set meal time for family dinner whether you sit with your family, spouse, partner or alone to just enjoy your meal (not in front of a TV or with your phone) is a great way to connect with your loved ones and yourself.

16. Detox from technology and work.

Especially since COVID-19 and more work being from the home, it’s hard to disconnect from work and technology. It’s important to set boundaries around work emails, phone calls and texts. Set up work hours even if you’re working from home. Limit your screen time – your phone can also help with this through setting up screen time daily limits.

17. Enjoy breakfast.

Most days breakfast is on the run or often skipped, right? So take a day like a weekend to make breakfast and enjoy it with your family or yourself. If you have a big day coming up or a big meeting or interview, wake up a little early and fuel your body with healthy nutrients to start your day – even a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana is better than nothing!

18. Pamper Yourself

Whether you enjoy a hot bubble bath, wearing a face mask, doing your nails, or taking a long shower. It’s always good to spend time to pamper yourself. That doesn’t mean you have to schedule a full day at the spa, it just means spending a 10-15 minutes relaxing and doing something that feels pampering to you. And men, don’t be scared of this as well! A nice hot, epsom salt bath after a long day can do any body wonders!

Did you know August is National Wellness Month?

National Wellness Month focuses on self-care, managing stress and promoting healthy routines. Create wholesome habits in your lifestyle all month long and see how much better you feel!

Research has shown self-care helps manage stress and promotes happiness. Whether you challenge yourself to a new yoga pose or try a different bedtime routine, make a small change and impact your health in positive ways. We hope the above tips help!

HOPE is Here

Georgia HOPE is currently providing Mental Health and Substance Use services throughout the state of Georgia online and in-person. If you, or someone you know, are interested in services, you can enroll today or refer someone with a simple form. If you need more information or would like to speak to someone directly, please contact us here.

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

Photo Courtesy of dailymail.co.uk

            In the times that we live in with Social Media and the Internet providing what feels like immediate access to our favorite stars/sports players, our children feel more “connected” to them than ever. This may have been evident for many who felt the loss of famed Basketball Player, Kobe Bryant. Grief was felt around the globe for his sudden loss of life in such a tragic way. Internet, TV, and Social Media platforms give fans the opportunity to live alongside their Idols as well as find out quickly when tragedy happens. This type of sudden tragedy creates an effect often referred to as Vicarious Trauma.

Vicarious Trauma

        Vicarious trauma is described as traumatization experienced by secondhand exposure to an event. For example, learning of the tragic loss of a child/teen’s idol, whether it be musician, athlete, actor, or member of their community through a media platform or otherwise is an example of this type of trauma. This exposure can produce a range of emotions including grief, fear, and discomfort. A range of stress symptoms may also be noticed including numbing, re-experiencing finding out about the loss, heightened anxiety, increased tearfulness, troubles with focus and attention, etc.  With our children often finding out about events before we do, how can we support them in working through some of these hard feelings?

Photo courtesy of buzz-caribbean.com

Supporting our Children and Teens through these Hard Emotions

          Often a caregiver’s response to grief or discomfort in their child is to want to “fix”. This is natural and has its place but listed below are some tips on being with your child in the hard times and empowering self-awareness and healing rather than “fixing”.

  •  Often with hard emotions of this nature just simply listening is often sufficient and what is needed in the moment. This type of active listening can be healing in itself as children process through these hard emotions.
  • Encourage your child to talk about their feelings.  Do not be afraid to have these hard conversations. Ignoring and avoiding bringing up the grief does not produce healing.
  • Approach with curiosity. Seek to understand how they have been impacted.
  • Do not be afraid to share with them how you have been impacted as well as healthy ways you are coping (exercise, journaling, art, etc.)
  • Validate your child/teen’s feelings. “I understand this is really hard for you and how much you looked up to them.”

      Lastly, if stress symptoms start to feel overwhelming or as though they are impacting daily life it is important to seek out professional Mental Health support. At Georgia HOPE we specialize in providing Mental Health Services such as Individual and Family counseling as well as Community Support Services among other things! Please do not hesitate to reach out and let us know how we can help you and your child.  HOPE is here!

 Written by Jennifer Cooper MS, LPC, RPT, NCC

hope happenings – episode 1

You’ve hit the wall. A tragedy has occurred. Nothing is going right.
Therapy is the first line of treatment in getting un-stuck. Whether you are going through a major life transition, feeling down, having relationship trouble, experiencing anxiety, or problematic usage of substances – therapy can help.

Here at Georgia HOPE, we have really adopted the integrated care approach to providing mental health services because we believe that addressing the needs of the whole person is the best way to provide quality care.

Usually “non-compliance” has more to do with what I think my client’s unmet needs are than with what my client thinks their unmet needs are. At the risk of giving Twisted Sister more credit than they might deserve for brilliant therapeutic insights, think about these lines in the context of the clients you work with who you think of as “non-compliant.”