Achieving an Optimal State of Mind

Worry and anxiety are on the rise in our homes. We have been living in a state of seemingly insurmountable odds with the pandemic, a charged political arena, as well as everyday bumps along the road of life. While overcoming worry and anxiety may seem impossible, tried and true practical steps can be taken in order to live a life centered on contentment and growth. 

Get Quality Sleep

One such practical step is simply to document your sleep schedule. While we all have internal rhythms that may vary, many of us fail to realize the importance of adequate sleep. Sleep provides our bodies with essential time for maintenance and repair of many of our life-giving organs, including our brains. When we miss sleep, our minds are not able to function at the highest levels, and that off-kilter feeling can give way to both worry and anxiety. 

Make Easy Changes to Diet

Another practical habit to help you battle worry and anxiety is eating well. Anxiety induced by any number of toxins can take away a sense of balance and stability in your life. Take our addiction to caffeine for example. As a worried people, should we really be consuming vast quantities of products that increase our on-edge feelings? Sugar is also known to affect both our mood and our sleep patterns. Taking a close look at how your diet could be contributing to your feelings of worry and anxiety may uncover ways you can calm your mind and live a steadier life. 

Release Endorphins Daily

And the third in the practical ideas line-up is, of course, exercise. Spending time working out can help reduce worry and anxiety as well. Humans burn energy, and it seems we can either burn it through the exercise our bodies need or through worrying endlessly in the middle of the night about things often beyond our control. So get outside, get active, and release those endorphins- you will be amazed at how this one change can help you sleep better and have less anxiety! 

Again, these simple reminders – adequate sleep, diet, and exercise – may help you reduce worry and anxiety in your own life. A steady, prepared mind is something that we all strive for, and working on these three areas of your life will perhaps enable you to achieve that optimal state of mind.

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Isolation is No Vacation- Drug Abuse on the Rise During Forced Furlough

Humans aren’t designed to live in isolation. We are social beings and that human connection, in a sense, keeps us breathing. A little over a year ago, we were full of breath, full of life. Our world, filled with school, sporting events, hanging out, working, and ceremonies, was brought to a screeching halt. This blow to the very reason we got up in the morning, had us gasping for air. What we experienced and what many are still experiencing is acute trauma. 

Experiencing trauma of any kind opens the door and possibility of substance abuse and addiction.

Feelings of anxiety, depression, anger, panic attacks and nightmares are all symptoms of trauma and that makes us feel out of control. And unfortunately, we were out of control. We had no say in when we could leave the house, if we could work, or even put food on the table. This is where comfort and control were found- in the use of alcohol and drugs as a way to self-medicate. For many, that form of medication claimed their last breath.

The CDC reports that by the end of May 2020, we had seen 81,000 deaths due to overdose and the numbers continued to surge during the pandemic. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is on a mission to breathe life back into those who are suffocating. They will direct $1.65 billion to prevention and treatment. Tom Coderre of the SAMHSA says, “We know multiple stressors during the pandemic – isolation, sickness, grief, job loss, food instability and loss of routines – have devastated many Americans and presented unprecedented challenges for behavioral health providers across the nation…we want to assure them that funding is in place to help states and territories provide pathways to prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services, especially for underserved populations.” 

Finding relief.

As life makes a slow turn back down a somewhat normal path for the majority of Americans, many will still be gasping for air and trying to find relief.  Trauma doesn’t disappear when the mask is removed. Find healthy coping skills that resonate with you.

Create healthy coping skills poster

Check on those around you.

Be their oxygen tank to life.

Be their relief as we all navigate toward the end of this isolated “vacation”. 

Mental Health Services
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Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

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Helpful Resources:

People searching for treatment for mental or substance use disorders can find treatment by visiting https://findtreatment.samhsa.gov or by calling SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

The American Society of Addiction Medicine and Shatterproof have provided an assessment to determine need: 

https://www.treatmentconnection.com/assessment

Sources: CDC.gov

NPR.org– Pandemic Fuels Record Overdose Deaths: Coronavirus Updates

Vantagepointrecovery.com

Childhood Emotional Wounds: How They Affect Us As Adults

Emotional wounds from childhood…the vast majority of us have them. In fact, roughly 60 percent of adult Americans report having experienced trauma or difficult relational dynamics as children—and that doesn’t even include those of us who have repressed these experiences.

But what is an emotional wound anyway, and why do they matter now?

An emotional wound is a negative experience, or series of experiences, that causes pain on a deep psychological level. It typically involves someone close to you: a parent, family member, lover, mentor, friend, or other trusted individual. It may be tied to a specific event or pattern of events, to learning a hard truth about life, or to going through a physical limitation or challenge. Most emotional wounds are associated with abuse, abandonment, loss, neglect, mistreatment, and inconsistency in close relationships, but even these terms can be defined differently depending on the person. We are all different in a myriad of ways, from genetic makeup to the circumstances in which we live, so what may have been traumatic for you may not be for someone else. Thus, the most important factor in identifying and understanding emotional wounds is not the world’s perception of what happened, but the individual who has them.
Childhood emotional wounds are particularly devastating because of who we were at the time: children. If adults have trouble processing these occurrences, just imagine the stress and overwhelm felt by a child trying to understand the same. Unlike adults, children are not yet able to analyze circumstances through the lens of education, social norms, and life experiences. All they know is that they are in pain, and without another point of reference, their conclusion is usually that they themselves must be to blame—that something inside them is inherently wrong, bad, or undeserving.
Unfortunately, these deeply rooted hurts and beliefs don’t just disappear with time. Even in cases where the conscious brain cannot recall the experience, the anxiety caused by it continues to be felt by our bodies to some degree. This is why emotional wounds come up later in life, particularly in relationships that mimic the ones in which they were caused (with significant others, family, and close friends): They can only stay hidden for so long. Such long-term, unresolved heartache has both mental and physiological effects. Not only does it chip away at a child’s sense of stability and self, damaging their self-worth and later producing feelings of guilt, shame, lack of belonging, and disconnection from others; emotional wounds can also lead to heightened anxiety, difficulty managing emotions, depression, and anger in adults. It isn’t uncommon for those with a history of trauma or painful relationships to develop struggles with addiction, chronic illnesses (cancer, heart disease, etc.), poor memory, and other mental disorders as well.
These effects ultimately dictate how we view ourselves, the world, and those around us, changing the way we interact with others. Many adults with emotional wounds have trust issues in relationships and develop victimhood thinking. This causes them to cap their own potential, compromising their success in careers, relationships, and other goals and dreams. For example, when self-expression and self-defense felt unsafe in childhood, unhealed wounds often manifest as passivity and subservience in adults. While these characteristics are sometimes viewed as positive, such people-pleasing behavior can have detrimental effects on the trajectory of one’s life as bottling up feelings instead of communicating can lead to resentment, blow-ups, and even depression. Moreover, people-pleasers’ “go-with-the-flow” nature makes them more susceptible to the exploitative intentions of narcissists and other parasitic people. Other adults may yell, lash out, be overly assertive, seek control, and push people away in times of distress. 

In situations where any form of child abuse took place, emotional wounds tend to show up as insecure attachment styles. These include:

  • Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: It is normal for some children exposed to abuse and neglect to fear close relationships. Now, as adults, those with fearful-avoidant attachment are distrustful, have a hard time sharing emotions with their partner and others and often avoid emotional intimacy altogether.

  • Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: When a parent or caregiver ignores or rejects a child’s needs, this attachment style results. As an adult, individuals with this style turn to ultra-independence to protect themselves from being rejected again.
  • Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: Adults with this attachment style require repeated validation in relationships and at times, come across as clingy and needy. Due to a childhood in which their parents were not consistent in the emotional security they provided, these individuals never feel secure. Loving the child and then rejecting them over and over again causes the child to constantly question their place and the validity of the love they receive.

Although distinct, each of the responses mentioned above is a coping mechanism, first learned in childhood in order to function under difficult circumstances and now a pattern of behavior in adulthood used to manage fear, uncertainty, rejection, abandonment, and uncomfortable feelings of any kind.
In sum, emotional wounds run deep and have a profound impact on our beliefs and behaviors as adults, specifically on our self-image and relationships. These traumas, whether big or seemingly small, fracture our foundation and can taint our perception of what is normal and true. They are not easily overcome, but the good news is that they can be. If this article resonated with you and you are not currently seeking support from a mental health professional, contact us today. We would love to help you take steps towards healing—because even though these wounds may be part of who you are, their negative effects don’t have to be. 

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

New Year: New Anxieties, Old Regrets

It’s a new year—a time to pause, plan, reflect, look forward, and dream before life picks up and the days and weeks start to blur together again. It’s what many would consider the second most wonderful time of the year—a fresh start, a clean slate, a moment of optimism. For others, though, the New Year isn’t so inspiring. It’s a reminder of setbacks and shortcomings, a reason to feel sorrow over decisions and events of years past. And, for at least 20 percent of the US adult population, it’s also a time of heightened anxiety over the months ahead. 

So, what’s the secret to actually enjoying the start of a new year—to fighting the regret and anxiety so many of us are feeling?

Be more positive! And no, we don’t mean “Cheer up, buttercup.” After all, emotions, whether positive or negative, aren’t bad. They’re just human. We mean finding a balance between the two by mitigating the never-ending flow of negativity in our lives in very intentional ways. This, research suggests, makes our minds more resilient, leading to less anxiety, regret, and an improved quality of life overall.

To help you get started, here are a few resolutions you can make to kick off your New Year right:

  1. Trade two for one. It won’t be easy to reverse your negative thought processes, but that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race,” really does apply here. When you find yourself ruminating on past failures—the school you didn’t go to, divorce you never wanted, 30 pounds you didn’t lose—remind yourself that the past is the past, and you can only work on today to have a better tomorrow. The same goes for negative thoughts about the future: When expecting the worst, speak truths about the situation to yourself, remembering the positive possibilities and the strength you’ve developed from situations in the past.
  2. Aim to replace every negative thought with two positive affirmations, observations, or gratitudes that counter it. By trading two for one, you’ll be teaching your brain to see situations in a better light.
  3. Similarly, practice thankfulness. If you’re tired of focusing on the past or future, redirect your mind to the present by listing the people and things for which you are thankful today. Be thankful for a good night’s sleep, a steady job, a friend who cares about you, your education, yummy lunch, the task you just completed, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, just give thanks! Keep a list in your notebook or phone, and glance at it throughout the day. You’ll notice a difference in no time.
  4. Want to get out of a mental rut? Prove it in your posture. It’s old news that the body affects the mind and vice versa, but studies have found that it’s not just healthy eating and exercise that make a difference, but the small habits too—like posture. On the days when you’re in a lull and can’t break out, stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, and stretch your arms out wide. This posture will not only get your blood pumping, but it will cause you to produce endorphins, much like exercise, that boost your positivity.
  5. To take this a step further, try power posing! A social psychologist at Harvard University found that there are “high power” and “low power” posture poses that affect our mood. By holding high power poses for about two minutes, we cause hormonal shifts in our bodies to take place, sparking feelings of self-confidence. The next time you need a coffee break, break into a power pose instead (like the Wonder Woman pose!), and feel more positive and empowered instantaneously.
  6. Set firmer boundaries. Distance yourself from negative people, and surround yourself with more positive ones—ones that are on the same journey towards self-improvement as you. We all know that phrase, “You are the sum of the people closest to you.” That’s because it’s true. Being around negative people for an extended period of time can rewire our neuronal connections. When this happens, the networks in our brains begin to respond negatively to situations that we once considered positive. These “re-wirings” can cause long-term depression and anxiety. It can take time, sometimes years, for our brains to learn to think differently again.
So, who uplifts you? Who pushes you towards your goals? Who is kind, patient, and genuinely concerned for your wellbeing? Choose them, and take measures to limit your time with the rest.
 
Last but not least, seek out a licensed counselor or therapist. Nobody should have to face regret and anxiety alone, and it’s important that one of the people standing next to you through these struggles has a deep understanding of their causes and effects. Friends and family are great for advice, consolement, and encouragement, but when it comes to chronic emotional distress, treatment is necessary. A professional will be able to break patterns of negativity on a more individualized basis—that is, according to your unique situation and needs.
So, begin implementing the habits above. If these feelings of regret and anxiety continue, schedule a time to talk to someone who can navigate these new habits with you, and maybe even help you identify more that will make this year worthwhile.
Here’s to a more positive 2022! Happy New Year to you and yours.

Parents: 5 Tips to Prevent Bullying

November 15th through 19th is Anti-Bullying Week—a week meant to raise awareness about the prevalence and dangers of bullying across the globe. Roughly 20% of U.S. children and teens in school report being bullied, with 41% of these students indicating that they expect to be bullied again. And these numbers are only growing. With social media (Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, etc.) increasingly becoming children and teens’ primary form of communication, bullying is easier than ever…because why do it in person when you can hide behind a computer screen?

If you’re a parent, these statistics aren’t exactly comforting, especially when you consider the effects of bullying. More than physical harm, victims of bullying are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school.

So, what, if anything, can you do to make a difference? Here are 5 tips to get you started:

  1. Ask questions.

Some kids are more communicative than others, but either way, asking your child about their day can go a long way in helping you (and them) identify unsafe people in their midst. Ask, then listen intently to what they have to say. Learn their friends’ names, even the classmates you’ve never met. Stay mindful of patterns, and remember: Bullying isn’t just throwing punches. Verbal assaults and/or antagonistic behavior can be just as harmful to a child’s wellbeing.

  1. Teach your kids how to respond.

Teaching your children emotional intelligence—how to manage their emotions and identify and relate to the emotions of others—is a great way to prepare your child for abusive situations of any kind. Encourage your child to call out bullying when they see it, to ask questions, and on the flip side, to notice the effects of their own actions on peers. For example, when approached by a bully, teaching your child to respond, “Are you being mean to me right now? That is not okay with me,” and then to confide in an adult is much more effective than teaching them to ignore the bully (whose behavior might only escalate).

  1. Set limits.

As we mentioned, cyberbullying is on the rise and can be more difficult to detect than other forms of bullying. This is where limiting the amount of time your child spends on social media is key. Bullies often know no bounds, so helping your child create their own by “signing off” after a certain amount of time sends the message that they need to have boundaries even when others don’t—even when it’s uncomfortable. Also, having “screen-free” hours will give you the chance to connect with your child and monitor their communication as needed.

  1. Be willing to intervene.

Nobody wants to be a helicopter parent, but when it comes to bullying, the “hands off” approach probably isn’t the way to go. If your child is expressing that someone is repeatedly picking on them, first try to understand the situation and your child’s point of view. Then, if possible, show them how to address the situation independently. If it’s clear that the bullying behavior is too severe or will continue, take action. Your child needs to know that you are their greatest advocate and first line of defense.

  1. Emphasize kindness.

This year, the theme of Anti-Bullying Week is One Kind Word, inspired by the idea that positive connections fostered through kindness can break down barriers and make a big difference for someone facing loneliness (Coincidentally, World Kindness Day also falls in November!). And this idea couldn’t be more true. Studies show that kindness increases our sense of connectivity with others, reducing loneliness and enhancing both our mood and interactions. It really is contagious!

So, perhaps the best way you can help prevent bullying is to make sure your child doesn’t become a bully themselves. Create a culture of kindness in your home, and apply the Golden Rule as often as you can in both speech and practice.

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Recognizing These Six Signs of Depression

Unfortunately, depression does not discriminate. This disease has affected the lives of over 300 million people worldwide. Just looking at statistics can be overwhelming, but it’s necessary to understand the magnitude of what’s happening to those around us. It’s imperative that we are in tune with the ones we love and cue in on the signs and flags they are metaphorically waving. 

6 Signs to Watch For:

Feelings of Worthlessness

When someone is constantly doubting themselves, never feeling confident in their abilities and their reflections are negative– this is a sign. 

Loss of Interest- 

When someone suddenly loses interest in activities that previously brought them joy such as sex, sporting events, hobbies, and social gatherings–this is a sign. 

Suicidal Thoughts- 

When someone feels they are no longer of use in this world, makes a plan, or speaks of taking their own life–this is a sign. 

Change in Appetite- 

When someone is overeating or undereating due to stress or anxiety, and these habits cause a dramatic change in appearance–this is a sign.

Trouble Sleeping

When someone begins to lose sleep due to daily stresses such as financial woes, work issues, marital or relationship problems–this is a sign. 

Fatigue-

When someone, rather they get enough sleep or not, has an overwhelming feeling of tiredness–this is a sign. 

Symptoms in children are quite similar, but we must keep a closer watch as 3.1 million children from ages 12-17 are experiencing depression. They might withdraw socially, suddenly become more sensitive, have unusual vocal outbursts, or feel overwhelmed with sadness. 

Regardless of the different outlets available to those who are depressed, 35% still receive no help. Listening is invaluable. Listen to your friends and family.  Check in on them and ask the questions that in a positive way, force an answer that will allow you to help. Here are some examples of questions to ask:

How can I best support you?

  • What specifically is hurting you? 
  • Who do you have in a supportive circle at work? At school? At home? 
  • What night can I bring dinner so we can talk? 
  • My calendar is open, pick a morning and let’s meet for coffee. 

Ask the questions, have the conversations, and tune in to those around you.

The flags will wave, it’s critical that you see them. Once seen, take the next step and have the conversations. Bring a certified professional in. Don’t be afraid to push them toward healing. At Southend Psychiatry, we offer services primarily online and in-person at flexible locations near you, and will be ready to support you and those you love on the path to mental wellness!

Finding Freedom in your Future: Mindset Matters

Our eyes sometimes see more than they can handle, our ears sometimes hear the unexpected, our hearts sometimes feel broken and our paths sometimes seem off course. How we respond can either hold us back or push us forward. It’s about mindset and some of us may need a shift, especially from the aftermath of a 2020 pandemic, a rise in racial tension and questionable sustainability. 

The pandemic infused fear about health, finances and our normal way of life. The rise in racial tension infused fear of the unknown for populations of color. The question of sustainability infused fear about the economy. Fear is a natural reaction and an OK reaction, but the response can trigger panic if we don’t step back. 

Be upfront about feelings.

Not everyone is going to feel the same way you do about issues, but subduing those will only lead to mental and physical exhaustion. In the same breath, be open to what others have to say and let them know you are listening. A conversation is a two way street and you’re actually damaging relationships when you are not upfront about the way you feel or don’t reach out to check on others. For example, race is not an easy topic to discuss, but it’s imperative and the only way to move forward, understand and heal. Are you uncomfortable when others aren’t wearing masks? Tell them. No one is a mind reader, but the hope is that when we are upfront, our feelings will be received and respected. 

Focus on what you can control.

So much is out of our hands, but the way you respond is all up to you. We are in control of our mindset, work ethic, the way we treat others, our language and how we take care of ourselves. 

Be mindful of where you are seeking information.

Credibility is key. Focus on the facts and where to find those. Go to the experts, not friends who Google information and say they’ve read study after study. We wouldn’t go to a dentist to help us understand why we have stomach pains or our hairstylist to find out the best way to cure an infection. Who is providing the information and what are their credentials?  

Practice self-care.

This can reduce the stress brought on by your fears. Developing a regular sleep time, eating healthy, going for walks AND taking a sick day from work are all paramount to keeping your stress levels down and controlling reactions to fear.

Ask for help.

This is key to our overall mental health and stability. It’s also a sign of strength, not a sign of surrendering control. We have to realize that life was not meant to be lived alone and those who surround us, can help. Reach out to someone you trust or you feel confident will listen, leaving judgement to the side. If you feel like you need to take baby steps in asking for help, a great way to start is anonymous helplines. Their job is to listen and guide. Once you find this to be comfortable, you realize the ease that comes with talking to friends about your feelings towards masks, racial protests and tensions, the economy and so much more. 

When we are able to shift into a healthy mindset, no matter what our eyes are seeing, our ears are hearing, our hearts are feeling and where our paths are taking us, the investment in our future will result in freedom.

Debilitating to Rehabilitating: Overcoming COVID Fear and Embracing the Social Scene

Dating. Backyard Barbecues. Open mic night at karaoke. Concerts. 

Oh how we’ve longed to get back to these events, but in the same breath, we’ve worried and allowed fear to claim authority over our lives. How do we slowly get back to that comfort zone that diminished overnight? What can we envision? 

Businesses are opening back up, the CDC has made modifications to the guidelines they suggest we follow, and the amount of vaccines being administered is climbing. However, the American Psychological Association reports that 49% of Americans are still uncomfortable with returning to in person interactions and activities. That number is 48% with those who are vaccinated. 

We got ourselves vaccinated. Now, how do we move from a feeling of debilitation to rehabilitating our social life?

“One small step…” 

Think about where one small step can take you. There is no reason to jump right back in, full force. Take baby steps and start small. Expose yourself in small increments until that feeling of fear or anxiety subsides. And remember, it’s not a race. 

“Sooner rather than later…“

Haven’t we always found it to be true that when we put things off, the anticipation, anxiety and worry builds?  Along with the small steps, take a tiny plunge back into the world of people. Venture to the grocery store or instead of the drive-thru, break the threshold and walk in for your coffee. It’s quick, but gives you some exposure and begins to build the confidence you may have been lacking.  

“Partner up…” 

If we’ve learned anything over the last year, we need companionship and support. Doing things together adds a sense of security. Maybe you’ve conquered walking in to grab your coffee. Now, you can sit and have the coffee with a friend, even if it’s on the patio.  

We’ve heard the word essential more times than we count this year: Essential workers. Essential items. Essential services. 

We also heard the word isolate.

What we didn’t hear enough of was that social interaction is ESSENTIAL to our well-being, emotionally and physically. 

“Fear is the mind-killer” and can completely debilitate us. It did exactly that this past year. To quell our fears and risk not being about to rehabilitate ourselves, the slow immersion back into the social scene is paramount. 

Sources:
Quote- Frank Herbert
American Psychological Association 

Helping Someone Cope: Providing Hope

Grief is not our friend but is certainly not a stranger to most of us. It has knocked on our door and walked right in without an invitation, never facing a warm welcome. When those we love are grieving a loss and trying to cope, words can fail us. While there is no perfect response to one of the most challenging emotions we experience as humans, we can offer hope in the ways we help.

Communicate

Someone suffering a loss will feel alone and may even want to be alone, but a phone call, text, or card can provide a sense of comfort. Fear can sometimes creep in, making us think we will say the wrong thing or convey the wrong message. Don’t let this prevent you from reaching out. The reaching out is the comfort. A smile, hug, and just being present and available helps those grieving know you see their grief and remember their pain.

Serve

Cook a meal, pick the kids up from school, mow their lawn, or run errands. It helps the griever when we do, rather than ask. Acts of service speak for themselves when words are lost.

Listen

Hear their words. Hear their cries. Hear their laughs. Hear their silence. Be available and make it known that you are there to listen.

Provide

Ongoing support is critical. Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, any way you choose to do this will provide a sense of hope and a brace of connection. Mark important days such as birthdays on your calendar, and send a text or make a call to let those grieving know you remember their loss. 

Helping Someone Cope

Grief will almost always overstay its welcome. When we communicate, serve, listen, and provide comfort to those suffering an unwelcome visit from grief, we offer validation while acknowledging that what they are feeling is important and real. And although we know the process of grieving takes time, the time we take to help someone cope will offer them something they desperately need during this time: HOPE.