Maine DHHS Encourages People to Take Advantage of Mental Health Help this Holiday Season

AUGUSTA - The Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) encourages Maine people to take advantage of the many resources available to support mental health during this holiday season and at the end of a challenging year for many.

While the holiday season can be a cheerful time, it can also lead to an increase in stress, depression, and other behavioral health challenges including substance misuse. This may be compounded by recent challenges such as the October tragedy in Lewiston and the December 18 storm that directly affected one in four residents and continues to leave some without power, homes, and jobs.

“The holidays can be a joyful time spent with friends and family as we travel, gather, and reflect on the year behind us. That said, 2023 has been a trying year as people across the state coped with trauma and natural disasters,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Puthiery Va. “We want Maine people to know that a range of supports are available, from crisis intervention to resiliency support, to help all have a safe, healthy, and happy end of the year.”

It is common to feel added stress during the holiday season. There are ways to help address stress other conditions and improve your mental health, including:

  • Paying attention to your feelings
  • Practicing self-care
  • Connecting with your community and loved ones, and supporting others
  • Knowing when to seek help.

Some of the signs that children or adults may be experiencing stress and that mental health may need attention include irritability, nervousness, changes in appetite, fatigue, and difficulty sleeping or concentrating. More serious warning signs may include a sense of hopelessness, withdrawing from loved ones, substance misuse, self-harm, and feelings, thoughts, or actions of suicide.

Seek help immediately if you or someone you know is talking about self-harm or suicide, feelings of hopelessness or unbearable pain, or about being a burden to others. Know that you are not alone, and here’s how to seek help.

Mental Health and Substance Use Resources:

  • 988: If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. The 988 Lifeline responds 24 hours a day, seven days a week to calls, chats or texts from anyone who needs support for suicidal, mental health, and/or substance use crisis, and connects those in need with trained crisis counselors. Individuals can also dial 988 if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support.
  • StrengthenME: StrengthenME is an initiative to help Mainers who are not experiencing a mental health crisis but may need stress management and resiliency resources to promote health and well-being. Services are completely anonymous, free, easy to access, and community focused.
  • OPTIONS: Maine residents facing opioid use challenges can connect with a local liaison through OPTIONS (Overdose Prevention Through Intensive Outreach, Naloxone and Safety), which sends mobile response teams to connect people directly to recovery services and treatment and distribute naloxone, the lifesaving overdose medication.
  • The Maine Resiliency Center: The Maine Resiliency Center was established in the wake of the mass violence event in Lewiston on October 25, 2023. Located at 184 Main Street, it provides free community connection, support, and resources to those impacted by this tragedy.
  • NAMI Maine’s Teen Text Support Line: This free, confidential resource for youth aged 13-23 is available daily from 2 p.m.-10 p.m. The line is staffed by trained support specialists- aged 18-24. Text (207) 515-8398.
  • 211 Maine: If you or someone you know needs other support and you don’t know who to call, reach out to 211. 211 Maine is a free, confidential information and referral service that connects people of all ages across Maine to local services, including StrengthenME and OPTIONS. 211 Maine is based in Maine and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.