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Health Matters: Mental Health during the holidays.


Certified Peer Supporter,


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Oh wait, hang on a second.

For many people, yes, indeed it is, but for other folks – myself included – the holiday season is one that really intensifies the feelings of anxiety. Depression, loneliness and isolation can really be highlighted this time of year. Stress of all kinds (financial, family, social) can be difficult to manage as well, which can bring to the surface those day-to-day things that we all struggle with at one time or another.

There may be a level of expectation that we find it hard to live up to in terms of social obligations and gift giving. (Who gets a gift? How much should I spend?)

What if we are living in Recovery and are choosing to abstain from or limit our alcohol or drug use? It’s expected that we feel happy, full of Christmas spirit and joy, but what if we don’t? Then what?

Hiding is an option. I’ve definitely used that one in the past, pretending the season isn’t there, isolating myself from family and friends, and white-knuckling it through the season. It’s not a great place to be.

There are other options to consider, such as setting boundaries.

Can’t get through that large family get together that lasts for the day or for several days? Consider going for as long as it feels good for you and not a moment longer.

When I begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, I very quietly let someone I trust know that I’m leaving and call it a day.

It’s very easy for folks to say: ‘reach out’, ‘give me a call’, or ‘I’m here for you’. Those are very well-intentioned and welcomed. However, when you live with mental health issues and/or substance use disorders, part of the issue is that we are not actually able to do any of those things. That’s a large part of the ongoing issue. If we could, we would.

Understanding that some folks struggle more during the holiday season and meeting us where we are, without any conditions, expectations or judgments would be a great place to start. Kindness and respect for others is always a great gift to give to others and will never go out of style.

CHANNAL is a provincial non-profit organization that provides peer support services, with a regional office in the Stephenville area.

We provide different peer support options such as in-person groups, Warm-Line peer support, and one-on-one peer support – both in-person and virtual.

You can find more information by calling the local Stephenville office at 643-4361, or our Warm Line at 1-855-753-2560. The Warm Line is open from 9:00 am until midnight, 365 days a year. We have also launched the French Warm Line, which offers peer support from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week. The number for French peer support services is 753-5460, or toll free, 1-833.753-5460. We provide confidential support that is free of judgment to anyone who may need a listening ear.

We also offer an educational Mental Health First Aid program (MHFA). Just like physical first aid, support and care is provided until medical treatment arrives. MHFA is given until appropriate support is found or until the crisis is resolved.

If you are interested in learning more about CHANNAL services or Mental Health First Aid, you can connect with me at or call 691-3542.

Wishing everyone a peaceful and hopeful holiday season, whatever that looks like for you!

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