It's That Time of Year (Again)

Posted on December 15, 2021 in: Safety

Joe Whiteman, director of safety services The Voice Newsletter December 2021

As we adjust to the cold, whether that be rain, snow or, in here in the Southwest, a little forecasted shade, the holidays are not far behind. Typically this month I write about holiday safety and focus on safe driving, proper ladder use while hanging Christmas lights and general safety concerns synonymous with the holiday season. This year I want to focus on a topic that is not so transparent, and often goes unnoticed or unspoken- mental health. 

As the song by Andy Williams suggests, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” The holiday season can be a fun, heartfelt time with friends and family. For many, however, it is often overwhelming and stressful. This is especially true of those with mental health challenges. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) did a study that showed that 64% of people with mental health challenges reported the holidays make their conditions worse. For many, the holiday season is a stressful time riddled with depression, anxiety, and stress. 

With many unknowns and challenges - - whether family, work, financial or health related - - along with the challenges from the effects of the pandemic, maintaining one’s mental health can be extremely challenging. I would like to encourage everyone to keep that in mind when interacting with neighbors, friends, family and strangers. Be kind to yourself and others, have a little more patience, engage in conversation. 

A cordial discussion can be a big relief for some, and may provide the opportunity to help identify those who need a little help. Understand that a simple gesture can go a long way for those feeling down. If that person is you, or you know someone experiencing mental health challenges, know that you or they are not alone. Excellent resources are available through the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the National Safety Council (NSC) and the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide prevention (CIASP) to name a few. I also recommend seeking out local resources for a situation that may require quick intervention or response. With that, I want to wish each of you and yours Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!

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