We have officially entered the holiday season. What is supposed to be the most joyful time of the year can be complicated and troubling for people during a mental health crisis or ongoing mental health concerns. One way to address it is to acknowledge it.
“A big part of it is naming it,” said Jocelyn McQuirter, project manager of See Mental Health, the Hennepin County mental health awareness campaign. “Choose what fills your cup during this time. Be aware and have a plan for what is going to be a pick-me-up.”
In some circles, there’s still a stigma attached to mentioning mental health issues. See Mental Health aims to reduce the stigma with a frank and honest talk about an issue that impacts thousands of families. According to the website, 819,000 Minnesota adults have a mental health condition.
McQuirter offered a reminder that the annual shift into winter can trigger both physical and mental changes for many Minnesotans.
“With the change in season and the weather, be aware of how you feel when the days start getting shorter, darker, colder. It can take a toll,” she said. “A big first step is being aware how that can affect our bodies and our minds.”
The See Mental Health website (www.seementalhealth.org) is a resource that can assist people during this time, whether they are struggling themselves or are in a relationship with someone who is experiencing depression during this holiday season.
“Grief is a very complex and deeply personal topic. Keep that in mind when making a concerted effort to show up for a friend or family member,” McQuirter said.
McQuirter said that sometimes just listening or taking the time for the simple act of sending a caring text to a loved one can be meaningful.
“What it means to tap in and connect with community looks different for everyone. Not everyone wants to gather around the dinner table. It may mean being willing to shift traditions, to support them in a way that’s comfortable to them.”
See Mental Health offers a link to community resources, as well as ideas, tips and tools, and the real-life voices of others about how they manage their mental health concerns.
“On the front page of the website you see information from everyday people in Hennepin County with ways they get through their mental health journey. They talk about the value of music, physical activity. Self-care is an important practice,” she said.
McQuirter added that some people can use their own mental health status to be encouraging to others.
“Sometimes it’s us setting an example by showing what mental health looks like,” she said. “We can take care of ourselves and reach out in warm and gentle ways. We can be mood boosters and uplift, and sometimes that’s the best we can do.”
In addition to practical and wellness-boosting reminders, See Mental Health also offers emergency resources for people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis. The website is available in Spanish as well.