Denver Highlights Mental Health this Holiday Season

DDPHE offers tips to manage seasonal stress ~

DENVER — There are many reasons to celebrate the holiday season: getting together with friends, the excitement around special occasions and more. But along with highs, come the lows: loneliness, grief, anxiety and frustration. Seasonal stress makes things far from merry and bright. As the holidays approach, help is available, and the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE) wants to remind our community of healthy habits and resources for residents.

“Know that you are not alone, and help is available to those that need it,“ said DDPHE Executive Director and Public Health Administrator Bob McDonald. “While it is our hope that everyone has a joyful holiday season, it’s easy to forget that this season can drain our mental health.”

Don’t go it alone

It is important to get support from friends, family, coworkers, and mental health professionals. The holidays can be a stressful time. You are not alone. There are many resources available locally and nationally that offer supportive services that address mental and behavioral health. If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

Colorado Crisis Services offers support for people who are experiencing a mental or behavioral health crisis. Text “TALK” to 38255 or call 1-844-493-8255 This service is free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline is available for those in crisis. Services can be accessed by calling or texting 988, or by chat at 988lifeline.org. 988 offers 24/7 access to trained crisis counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress. That could be thoughts of suicide, mental health or substance use crises, emotional distress or any other reasons to connect.

The Colorado Walk-In Crisis Center at 4353 E. Colfax Ave Denver, 80220 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Licensed clinicians offer confidential, in-person support, information and referrals to anyone in need. They see children, adolescents, young adults, families and adults. Other locations are available in the Denver metro area in Aurora, Boulder, Littleton, and Wheat Ridge.

The Crisis Text Line offers free 24/7 support through text, chat and WhatsApp. Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a volunteer crisis counselor.

The Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Behavioral Health’s provider database can help you locate behavioral health treatment near you.
Mental Health First Aid offers additional tips and resources for year-round well-being management and offers a skills-based training course that teaches participants about mental health and substance-use issues.

Learn more about DDPHE’s work to improve mental and behavioral well-being in Denver at Denvergov.org/CommunityHealth.

Maintain a healthy routine and set boundaries 

Rest, hydration and movement – like walking or stretching – can help stabilize moods, reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, and improve long-term mental well-being. Set healthy boundaries and schedule time to maintain the routine.

Support others by choosing your words carefully

Stigma is one of the biggest challenges people with mental health conditions face. Stigma is a negative belief, treatment or prejudice toward a group of people often based on stereotypes or assumptions. Studies in Colorado and across the U.S. have found that poor mental health is on the rise and accessing care is still a struggle for many.

Support friends and family this holiday season (and year-round) by thinking about the language of mental health. DDPHE’s What You Say Matters campaign addresses sources of stigma and provides alternatives to language that is stigmatizing.  Use the language guide to learn how support people experiencing mental health conditions.

Tips for those in recovery and maintaining sobriety

For those in recovery, the holidays can be a time of high stress, making them more vulnerable to relapse. As many celebrations center around alcohol, the holidays are a good opportunity to start new traditions like baking, caroling, or volunteering to participate in the spirit of the season.

When attending a party, bring water, soda, or make a holiday mocktail from online recipes. If possible, arrange transportation to events in order to leave when needed. More information on maintaining sobriety during the holidays is available through the Addiction Policy Forum.

DDPHE offers free overdose prevention resources, including naloxone and fentanyl test strips, for all Denver residents.

Honor your grief 

The holiday season can be especially difficult for those who have lost a loved one. The Family Advocacy Support Team (FAST) at Denver’s Office of the Medical Examiner provides tips for managing grief at the holidays for people who have experienced loss.  Anxiety is a normal part of life, especially after loss. Create a list of coping skills for more stressful moments. Activities like breathing deeply, taking a walk, practicing meditation, and listening to music can help you process feelings.

Find more advice here on grief and the holidays.

The Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE), Denver’s nationally accredited public health agency, empowers Denver’s communities to live better, longer. The divisions of DDPHE are: Animal Protection, Community & Behavioral Health, Environmental Quality, Office of the Medical Examiner, Public Health Investigations, and Shared Services & Business Operations. In partnership with Public Health Institute at Denver Health, DDPHE provides quality public health services to the City and County of Denver. For more information about DDPHE, visit denvergov.org/dphe or follow us @DDPHE.

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