Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Meghan Levitt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Is mental wellbeing on your Christmas list this year?

Carlton County Public Health


December 20, 2018

Has the holiday season ever come with more feelings of depression than excitement and hope? You are not alone - the holidays can be a difficult and stressful time for many. Maybe this is the first season without a loved one or maybe there is a change in tradition. There may be feelings of loneliness or isolation. This time of year, we often talk about taking a walk after eating a lot of calories or try a healthier version of a recipe, but the conversation should also include ways to care about our mental wellbeing, as it is just as important as any other piece of our physical health.

Contrary to common assumption, suicide rates are not the highest during the holiday season. That does not mean that people are not struggling - even those we may not initially suspect. One of the most important ways we can support each other, through what might be a difficult time in life, is to connect regularly to build community. Resilience is a recent 'buzz-word', but rightly so. If we build a resilient community, we build connections and support. If we build connections and support, we create an environment where people know they can reach out for help, and know that help is out there.

Once a month, community members and professionals have been coming together for a Mental Wellbeing and Resilience Learning Community, facilitated by the Minnesota Department of Health, to learn about strategies that other groups are implementing around the state, and to have conversation about what might work locally. The meetings take place the last Tuesday of the month from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Carlton County Transportation Building in Carlton (1630 County Rd. 61). Anyone is welcome to attend.

Another myth people often believe is that you need to have a diagnosed mental illness to seek help. Everyone has 'mental health' - your spouse, your son/daughter, your parents, your teachers, your city/county/state leaders, etc.! Even though you may not have a mental illness, you may still be experiencing poor mental health and need help during a season of life. A few 24/7 resources include:

- Crisis Text Line (text MN to 741741): When you text, you will receive two automated texts back, then a conversation with a live counselor will begin.

- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255)

- Local mobile crisis (218-623-1800): You can use as an anonymous call line, or have a visit, in person, from the mobile crisis team members.

May the holidays be a time for connecting with others, building community, and creating a more caring network that encourages help-seeking behaviors and builds protective factors. Remember to care for those most vulnerable but also for those who may look like they have it all together; those who may be fighting an inner battle.

"If someone listens, or stretches out a hand, or whispers a word of encouragement, or attempts to understand a lonely person, extraordinary things begin to happen."

- Loretta Girzartis


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