State residents reminded of mental health, substance use disorders resources during the holiday season
December 26, 2018
Last week, members of the Wolf Administration spoke in the state Capitol Rotunda to share resources and advice for individuals and families affected by mental health and substance use disorders (SUD) during the holiday season.
“This time of year is hard for many people and for varying reasons. During this holiday season, I urge all Pennsylvanians to be kind to one another and help to break stigma associated with SUD,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jennifer Smith. “In doing so, we can give individuals the courage to seek the help and resources they need and so desperately deserve. Whether you are in recovery, seeking treatment for the first time, or need information on how you can help or support a loved one’s journey, there are resources available throughout the holiday season.”
DDAP maintains a toll-free helpline that connects callers looking for treatment options for themselves or a loved one to resources in their community. You can reach the Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The helpline is available 24/7 – including Christmas Eve and Day and New Year’s Eve and Day. An anonymous chat service offering the same information to individuals who may not be comfortable speaking on the phone is also available at www.ddap.pa.gov.
Additionally, the administration recently announced the launch of the Drug and Alcohol Referral Tool, https://www.humanservices.state.pa.us/Dart, a website designed to help Pennsylvanians seeking SUD treatment resources for themselves or a loved one find treatment options and other related services in their area.
“Remember your support system, and do not hesitate to use them if needed. If you are alone and cannot access your support system, the Get Help Now helpline can also be an ally,” said Secretary Smith. “Helpline employees are trained professionals who understand the sensitivity of an individual in a crisis and the complexity of the drug and alcohol system. They will remain on the line with the caller until treatment and resources have been identified and a warm handoff with a facility or provider has been made.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (or NAMI), extra stress, sentimental memories, or unrealistic expectations can lead to the holiday blues. One in five adults suffers from a mental illness in America, with 64 percent of people saying they were affected by the holiday blues.
“The holiday season can also be stressful for many, and people who experience feelings of anxiety or depression may feel this more during this time,” said Department of Human Services Secretary Miller. “If you or a loved one are suffering from mental illness or are experiencing feelings like this for the first time, know that you are not alone. Make time for yourself as much as you can, surround yourself with people who love and support you, and if you need extra help, resources are available to help you.”
“With the festive holiday season upon us, it is not uncommon for the holiday blues to creep up on many people, but particularly on the elderly population,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “In addition to looking out for signs, including sadness, inactivity, loss of interest or appetite, or increased alcohol consumption, it’s important to take some time to make sure our elderly loved ones are safe and staying active.”
If you or someone you love is in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available by calling 1-800-273-8255. The hotline is staffed 24/7 by trained counselors who can offer free, confidential support. Help can also be accessed through the Crisis Text Line by texting “PA” to 741-741.
Mental health services are coordinated at a local level by county mental health and developmental services offices. They can determine the appropriate program for an individual’s unique situation and needs. More information about these offices and their locations can be found at http://www.dhs.pa.gov.
The holidays may also be difficult for individuals in recovery, especially if they become stressed by changes to their schedule or daily routine, have strained or non-existent relationships with family members, or are faced with potential triggers while attending holiday parties and other celebrations.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the most dangerous time of the year for substance use and alcohol related deaths are around the holiday months. The Wolf Administration encourages all Pennsylvanians to take advantage of the standing order to obtain Naloxone over the holidays.
“Naloxone is a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “After the success of Stop Overdoses in Pa: Get Help Now Week, we realize that Pennsylvanians are dedicated to helping to save lives of not only their loved ones, but also anyone who has overdosed. Naloxone is available at many local pharmacies without a prescription through the standing order written in 2015.”
Families can support their loved ones in recovery by limiting their drinking or other substance use, properly disposing of old and unwanted prescription medication, and by creating a welcoming, safe, and compassionate environment for their loved one. This includes respecting what a loved one may or may not want to talk about, avoiding rehashing old problems, and being understanding if your friend or family member needs to remove themselves from a triggering situation.
For more information on treatment options in Pennsylvania, county-based resources, and the Wolf Administration’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, visit www.pa.gov/opioid.