While the holiday season can be a time of great joy, it can also be one of great stress. From household budgets stretched to the breaking point, to long-simmering tensions that erupt over family gatherings, the holiday season can be a lot to handle.
Add in job loss or health insurance cuts, and an already high-stress situation can get even worse.
NYSUT's Social Services program ensures that members and their families don't have to weather tough times alone. "Reach out to us," said Ani Shahinian, a licensed certified social worker and social service specialist. "It can be relieving to know what your options are."
NYSUT Social Services provides free, confidential and comprehensive referral and resource information to help members improve the quality of their lives. Staffed by licensed counseling professionals, Social Services can help members and their families with a range of issues, including finding support groups or mental health services, managing hospitalizations and locating specialized services for individuals with disabilities. All assistance is confidential and available to members and their families.
January is one of the busiest months for referral requests, said Shahinian. She explained that people often try to persevere through the holidays, they then seek help once schedules have returned to normal. A common question is, when is a case of the blues something more?
"If you're having trouble motivating yourself to get out of bed, or isolating yourself from others, that's a sign that something is serious," said Shahinian, who noted that another red flag is having lots of friends tell you they're worried about you. Using alcohol or other substances just to make it through the week is another symptom.
"If those feelings persist for more than a day or two, you need to get help," she continued.
To cope with typical wintertime blues, eating healthy, getting sufficient sleep and exercising are key, said Shahinian. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may also be to blame, so consider using a sunlight lamp to counteract the affects of the shorter daylight hours of January and February.
"We encourage members in need to take advantage of this vital membership benefit," said NYSUT Vice President Kathleen Donahue, whose office oversees the union's Social Services program.