Tis the Season… Reach Out for Help… It is Here!

Tom Watkins President-CEO - AThe holiday season is a festive time to celebrate, enjoy family and be thankful for those things in life that we sometimes take for granted. But along with this joyous time comes two major issues that affect so many people — stress and depression.
We tend to put so much responsibility on ourselves during this time of year with holiday parties, buying gifts, cooking, cleaning, entertaining family, decorations, not to mention the everyday tasks of work and family life. So, when do we have time to take a mental break? The answer is … we don’t. The key during the holidays is to remind ourselves that pleasing everyone is unrealistic.
We must take care of ourselves first and foremost — otherwise we are no good to anyone else. Find time now — more than ever — to exercise, read a book, do something that relaxes us; our families, friends and co-workers will thank us in the end.
Depression takes no holiday
Another issue that can be exacerbated during the holiday season is depression. Some people may find this time of year particularly difficult as holidays are generally associated with a time to share with families. Feelings of loneliness and depression are very common around the holidays; and while most people don’t live in glass houses or have lives with fairy tale endings, we all long for some resemblance of perfection around the holidays.
There are ways to cope with depression during this difficult time.  has peer support services to assist in getting through this time and all the times in between. Peer support services are provided by individuals who are trained to use their personal experiences with mental illness, developmental disabilities and/or substance use disorders to help others. Peer-run organizations (e.g., drop-in centers, mentoring programs, respite care, etc.) provide individuals with opportunities to learn coping skills to move into a more active existence and enhance their self-esteem and self-confidence.
Other ways to deal with situational depression and loneliness are easier than you think. Don’t isolate yourself — attend a party, call a friend, go to a movie, go to a church, synagogue or mosque volunteer your time, serve in a soup kitchen — give to others.
Coping with stress and depression during the holidays (and after) is just the beginning to managing our mental health and our overall physical health — the two go hand in hand.
Don’t allow the weight of stigma to prevent you from seeking professional help. Depression and other mental illness are diseases of the brain and are as real as a heart attack or cancer. You are deserving of treatment and recovery.
Also, family and friends, be on the lookout for your loved ones who have a history of depression and other mental illnesses over the holidays. Don’t allow them to isolate themselves. Reach out to help as needed or call a professional to intervene.
As we are emphasizing the need to prioritize mental and physical health, the Michigan Department of Community Health has selected the DWMHA to be among a few in the state to host the Medicare Medicaid Dual Eligible Pilot Demonstration Program in early 2014. This program is intended to improve care coordination, access to care, quality of service for individuals enrolled in both Medicare and Medicaid. This program will effectively align Medicare and Medicaid services and bridge the divide between physical health, long term care, and behavioral health systems.
If you are a Detroit/Wayne County resident, contact the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority should you need to speak with someone about our peer support services or other programs and services to help you cope now and throughout the year.
The DWMHA 24-Hour Crisis Info & Referral Line is 1-800-241-4949.
Others should contact your local community mental health agency. If in doubt, call the number above and they will connect you to care close to your home.
For more information on the Medicare Medicaid Dual Eligible Pilot Demonstration Program, visit www.michigan.gov/mdch
Happy holidays, Merry Christmas and may we truly have peace in our hearts — if not on Earth in the New Year.
Need mental health or substance use help? Call 24/7 365 days a year: 1-800 241-4949

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