Christmas is a time of joy and festivity for many people, but it can also be a challenging time.
The added stresses and emotions that come with the holiday season can have a particular impact on those struggling with mental-health or substance-use issues.
If you’re struggling this Christmas, know that you don’t have to cope on your own. There are a variety of mental-health and substance-use services and supports available throughout the province for adults, youth and children. These supports offer easy access to caring, professional help, and the people on the other end of the phone are always ready to listen.
The pressure of finding the perfect gift, spending time with family and friends, and making sure that children have a memorable holiday can be overwhelming for those who are dealing with anxiety or depression. Supports for adults include:
- Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre: Provides confidential, non-judgmental, free emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including thoughts of suicide. Phone: 604 872-3311 (Greater Vancouver), or toll-free 1 800 SUICIDE (784-2433), or visit: https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/
- HealthLink BC: Provides 24-hour, confidential health information and advice. Phone: 8-1-1, or visit: www.healthlinkbc.ca
- Mental-Health and Substance-Use Information: Heretohelp.bc.ca is a provincial website that provides information about managing mental illness and maintaining good mental health, including self-management resources and screening self-tests for wellness, mood, anxiety and risky drinking.
- Substance-Use Services: B.C. has a network of direct and contracted services for individuals suffering from substance-use challenges, including counselling, needle exchanges, opiate replacement therapy, as well as withdrawal management and prevention programs for adults and youth. Call toll-free: 1 866 658-1221.
- The Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service: Provides resources, support and referral information for treatment and counsellors throughout the province. Call toll-free: 1 800 663-1441 or 604 660-9382 (Greater Vancouver).
- Alcohol Sense: A resource for parents and caregivers to support them in having resiliency-enhancing conversations about drinking with their children, including young adult children. Visit the Healthy Families BC website: www.healthyfamiliesbc.ca/home/articles/topic/alcohol-sense
- Bounce Back: An evidence-based program designed to help adults experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, low mood or stress, with or without anxiety. Call toll-free: 1-866-639-0522, or visit: www.cmha.bc.ca/how-we-can-help/adults/bounceback
It’s not just adults who can find this time of year difficult: the excitement of gifts, late nights and increased family time can also affect children and youth, leading to feelings of stress, sadness and even loneliness over the holidays.
Additional supports for children and youth include:
- Kids Help Phone: Immediate and caring support, information and, if necessary, referral to a local community or social service agency. Phone toll-free: 1 800 668-6868, or visit: http://org.kidshelpphone.ca/
- Youth in B.C. Distress Line: 24-hour distress line staffed by counsellors and trained volunteers who are committed to helping youths in crisis. Phone: 604 872-3311, or visit: http://youthinbc.com/
- Online services map: Interactive map listing approximately 350 mental-health and substance-use services for children and youth throughout the province. View the map at: http://ow.ly/VFSrT
For more information on supports specific to your region, visit:
- Northern Health: www.northernhealth.ca/YourHealth/MentalHealthAddictions.aspx
- Interior Health: www.interiorhealth.ca/YourCare/MentalHealthSubstanceUse/Pages/default.aspx
- Island Health: www.viha.ca/mhas/
- Vancouver Coastal Health: www.vch.ca/your-health/health-topics/mental-health/
- Fraser Health: www.fraserhealth.ca/health-info/mental-health-substance-use/
- Ministry of Child and Family Development: Local Child and Youth Mental Health Offices: http://ow.ly/g5MR307a5K2.
- Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: keltymentalhealth.ca/node/2572
If you’re feeling down or struggling with the pressures of the season, put your mental health first and reach out for help and support from family, friends and community service agencies if you need it. Everyone deserves to have a healthy, happy holiday.