Not Everyone Loves the Holidays
For those suffering from serious mental health problems, the holidays can be a painful reminder of the peace and stability they lack. Loneliness, grief from the loss of a loved one, debilitating health conditions, poverty—all of these can contribute to and exacerbate underlying mental health conditions, especially when it seems like everyone else has loving support and a full meaningful life.
What You Can Do
Sometimes a person suffering from mental health problems will come right out and tell you he or she is in pain. Other times, he or she may pretend to be happy to avoid feeling vulnerable. If you know someone is alone, or has recently lost a loved one, or is homebound from injury or illness—ask how they are doing; share a cup of coffee; visit them on the weekends. Anything you do to stay in touch with hurting neighbors will remind them that they have options and that there are people who notice and care.
Respond with affirmations, not derision. It may seem obvious, but it’s easy to be dismissive when people tell us their problems. We might react with an uneasy laugh, or comments that undermine their suffering, like, “Oh, things could be so much worse,” or “Just don’t think about it,” or “Let me tell you my problems.”
Keep confidences—your neighbor needs to trust you. But if the person makes references to suicide, get professional help right away. Get in touch with our Behavioral Health Counseling Services intake counselors, or call the National Suicide Hotline for immediate help: 1-800-273-8255.
Sometimes people are so overwhelmed with grief and crisis they aren’t able to tell you what they need. Feel free to start guessing! Shovel their driveways, bring them lunch or a special treat, babysit their children—anything you can think of. You might not guess exactly right, but you’ll open the door to finding out what might really help.
Last year, we served more than 9,000 people struggling with a wide variety of social, mental, and physical impairments. And our sliding scale fee structure means nobody who comes to us for mental health counseling is turned away because of income. We believe that professional mental health care should be available to everyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay.
If you share our commitment, please be a Good Samaritan. Your financial gift is critical for providing the support our neighbors need.
Thank you for making our neighborhood one of compassion and hope.