The Holiday Season & Mental Health Emergencies

As I noted in my last post, the holidays can be tough.  For some of us it can be a season of financial stress, sugar-cookie and waistline anxiety, and family annoyances.  For others of us, this season can be a time of very serious depression.

I was recently in San Francisco and took this picture:

I had never seen anything like it before – a sign for crisis counseling?!? I immediately saw the reason (notice the Golden Gate Bridge in the background), but also started to wonder what it would be like if there were such services available everywhere.  What would the world be like if we were never more than a mile or two from someone who could really help?  A better, less lonely, less isolated world I say.  One where I would like to be.

If you, or someone you know could use an ear this time of year, here are a few places where you can find someone to talk to:

American Psychological Association, Psychologist Locator

The Trevor Lifeline (Specializing in LGBTQ Youth) 866-488-7386

Kristin Brooks Hope Center 800-442-HOPE

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 800-273-8255


If you are a business owner or school leader, consider posting a sign with the above information for those in need this holiday season – and all year ’round!


When Your Holidays Aren’t So Happy

A few years ago one of my dear friends got some bad news.  It was a few weeks before Christmas and she was happily humming along to the holiday tunes she loved when the bad news hit her smack in the face.  I’m not going to get into details, but the news was devastating and life changing.  And ever since that early December evening, the holiday season has meant something different to her.  No longer is it unabashedly cheerful and grateful, rather it is a time for reflection, sadness, and regret.

During this time of year we are bombarded with the happiness of the holidays.  We can also find tips on managing holiday stress, coping with the dreaded office Christmas party, and dealing with irritating in-laws and unwanted gifts.  But it is more rare that we read about the sadness that the holiday season brings for many.  Those without families, those who have lost marriages, children, parents, or homes.  The reasons for holiday gloom are many – and more common than you might think.

So what can be done when your holidays aren’t happy and don’t look anything like those in the movies?

Give yourself a break. Even though Target, Hallmark, and Macy’s would have us believe that December is the most magical, meaningful time of the year, it doesn’t have to be so.  There’s no law saying you have to put up lights, decorate a tree, or even send out cards.  So make your own meaning and tradition.  June a better time for you? Go with it – and create traditions and memories around a time that works better for you.

Don’t fake it. Forcing yourself to go to every party, bake 12 dozen cookies, and smile until January 2nd will just make the season worse.  Feel like staying home and having a quiet night in? Do it.

The reason for the season. Whatever your religious preference, I think most can agree that the reason for the season is NOT excessive spending and swelling of consumer debt.  So whatever your beliefs, it may be helpful to focus on the spiritual side of December.

Seek help. If you’ve tried some of the ideas above as well as some of your own, and still can’t shake your sadness this season, consider seeking the help of a psychologist.  Often just a few sessions with an unbiased, caring, helpful professional can be enough to make the holidays manageable – and maybe someday enjoyable.

Photo by: LST1984