Mental Wellness At Christmastime

Fraser Valley – The holidays can be a fun and joyful time for families, but they can also add to stress levels, affect depression and be challenging for people with mental health or substance use issues.

Even for children and youth, the break from regular schedules and hubbub around gifts, family time, staying up late and excitement about a visit from Santa can also lead to feelings of anxiety, sadness and even loneliness over the holidays.

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.

Adults struggling with depression or anxiety can feel overwhelmed with family gatherings, buying gifts and making sure their children’s holiday is special and memorable. Supports for adults include:

  • Mental Health and Substance Use Information: Heretohelp.bc.ca is a provincial mental health and substance use website providing 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: A network of direct and contracted services for individuals suffering from substance use problems, including counselling, needle exchanges, opiate replacement therapy, withdrawal management and prevention programs for youth. Phone toll-free: 1 866 658-1221 FREE.
  • The Alcohol & Drug Information and Referral Service: Find resources, support and referral information for treatment and counsellors across the province. Phone toll-free: 1 800 663-1441 FREE or 604 660-9382 (Greater Vancouver).
  • HealthLink BC: 24-hour, confidential health information and advice. Phone: 8-1-1, or visit: www.healthlinkbc.ca
  • Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre: 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).
  • 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. Phone toll free 1 866 639-0522 FREE, or visit: www.cmha.bc.ca/how-we-can-help/adults/bounceback

Throughout the year, thousands of B.C. children and youth receive the FRIENDS Program in their classrooms. FRIENDS is a school-based resiliency program that teaches kids how to identify and manage stress and worries, while promoting self-esteem and positive relationships. FRIENDS plays an important role in ensuring that B.C. kids have the life skills and resources they need to cope with difficult situations and challenges they may face throughout the year, including during the holidays. To find out more about the FRIENDS Program in B.C., visit: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/friends.htm

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 FREE.
  • 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.
  • Online services map: Interactive map listing approximately 350 mental health and substance use services for children and youth throughout the province. View the map: 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%20Health%20Services/Mental%20Health%20Services

Fraser Health: www.fraserhealth.ca/your_care/mental-health-and-substance-use/

Ministry of Child and Family Development: Local Child and Youth Mental Health Offices: www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/mental_health/contacts.htm

Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: keltymentalhealth.ca/node/2572

Make mental health your personal priority this holiday, and ask for help and support from family, friends and community service agencies if you find yourself feeling less than merry this holiday season.

Audio clips of Terry Lake, Minister of Health and Stephanie Cadieux, Minister of Children and Development are available at:

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