Contrary to one myth that's been perpetuated in mainstream media, suicides don't increase around the holidays. In fact, November and December have the lowest monthly average suicide rates, according to the Annenberg Public Policy Center
But the holidays can come with unique mental health challenges.
"I think it’s reconnecting with family members when there’s unresolved issues," says Lori Jarvis-Steinwert, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Colorado Springs. "I think it’s just that whole notion of going home, wherever home is. And I think it’s also, we’ve created expectations around the holidays as this joyous time of year. And so if your life isn’t particularly joyous, for whatever reason...things that you might be coping with OK on a day-to-day basis, it’s just everything’s in stark relief during the holidays."
asked locally based mental health advocates and providers for advice on maintaining mental health this holiday season, and recommendations on where to get help. Here's what they had to say:
1. Try not to isolate yourself.
It helps to spend time with healthy, supportive people — who may or may not be your relatives — during the holidays, says Charlton Clarke, director of health care services at AspenPointe. If you can't or don't want to be around others, Jarvis-Steinwert suggests scheduling time to do something you enjoy, like going to the movies.
2. Now's not the time to take a break from therapy
, even if it seems like a good idea, Clarke says. "This is a time when you should really continue to engage with therapy, if that’s what you’re doing, or if people have never thought about therapy and they’re feeling depressed and the holidays are stirring that up, this is the perfect time to actually begin to engage with mental health services." (See a list of resources below.)
3. If your therapist will be out of town, make a backup plan,
says Brenna Sturgeon, a licensed professional counselor and level 2 certified addiction counselor at Peak Vista Community Health Centers. That could include checking whether they have someone else on call you can reach, or asking them to recommend other mental health resources.
4. Know the numbers.
Call 1-844-493-8255 or text "TALK" to 38255 to connect with Colorado Crisis Services' trained counselors for free, 24/7. TESSA of Colorado Springs has a 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and their children: 719-633-3819.
5. In crisis? Visit a walk-in center.
AspenPointe operates two walk-in crisis centers for Colorado Crisis Services. One, at 115 S. Parkside Drive, is open 24/7. (Locations and hours below.) "That’s probably the best first step, is if someone feels like they’re in crisis and they don’t know what to do, to go to one of those places to try to start the process," Clarke says.
Resources around town (in alphabetical order):
AspenPointe offers counseling, therapy, medication services and substance use treatment at locations around Colorado Springs. Call (719) 572-6100 for more information.
AspenPointe walk-in crisis centers:
115 S. Parkside Dr. (Open 24/7)
6071 E. Woodmen Road, Suite 135 (Open 7 a.m.-11 a.m., 7 days a week)
Brain and Body Integration, located at 1115 Elkton Dr. #300, offers counseling, biofeedback treatment and medication management. Call (719) 357-6471 for more information.
Insight Services, located at 212 E. Monument St., offers individual and group therapy (including yoga therapy) and substance use treatment on a sliding fee schedule. Call 719-447-0370 for more information.
NAMI Colorado Springs, located at 510 E. Willamette Ave., offers free support groups and classes for those experiencing mental illness and their loved ones. Call (719) 473-8477 for more information.
NAMI Colorado Springs support groups (do not meet Dec. 24-25 or Dec. 31-Jan. 1):
The non-faith-based Connection Support Group meets Tuesdays from 7-8:30 p.m. on the second floor of First United Methodist Church, 420 N. Nevada Ave. A group for family members of those living with mental illness meets across the hall.
Thrive Connection Support Group, a faith-based group, meets on second and fourth Mondays from 6:30-8 p.m. at Woodmen Valley Chapel, 290 E. Woodmen Road, Room 115. A faith-based support group for family members meets in Room 114.
Peak Vista Community Health Centers offers counseling, therapy, psychological exams and psychiatric support at locations around Colorado Springs. Call 719-632-5700 for more information.
Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care, located at 2550 Tenderfoot Hill Street, offers grief support groups for both adults and children, and individual grief counseling for individuals. Call 719-633-3400 anytime for more information or to speak to a grief counselor.
TESSA of Colorado Springs, located at 435 Gold Pass Heights, provides emergency shelter, food, case management, counseling and victim advocacy for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault and their children. Call 719-633-1462 for more information or 719-633-3819 for the 24-hour SafeLine.