Mental health awareness during the holidays

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 10:35 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV)- The holiday season is here and while it’s a joyous time with family and friends for some, it may be a tough time for others.

Molly Long struggled with depression for many years and tried numerous therapies and treatments. In November 2019, people hadn’t heard from Molly so her parents tried to reach her but couldn’t.

“I was at work here in town and I said something is not right, so I jumped in the car,” Kevin said.

Molly had died by suicide the day before Thanksgiving. She was 25.

Kevin said there are times throughout the year when it is really hard, and the week of Thanksgiving is always tough.

“There is still so many things that happen throughout the year, the birthday, Father’s Day, Christmas. You know you’re on Facebook and you see it’s daughters day,” Kevin said.

Kevin said one of the things he misses most about Molly is how excited she would be to see her family during the holidays. Now Kevin said they try to smile and think about the good times.

Since her death, Kevin has worked to be active in fundraising for suicide prevention efforts and advocating for more resources. For families in similar situations, he said don’t hesitate to talk.

“Talk about it. Don’t be afraid to ask the question ‘are you okay?’” Kevin said. “Don’t be scared of the answer you’re going to get.”

Amy Ghaemmaghami, Outpatient Behavioral Health Coordinator at Augusta Health, agrees.

“If they are talking about suicide do not ignore that. The number one thing you can do is let that person talk,” Ghaemmaghami said. “Tell them I am glad you are talking to me about this.”

Ghaemmaghami said people often seek mental health services after the holidays.

“They notice that they are feeling depressed, they’re feeling more anxious, maybe they enjoyed the holiday and seeing people but then there’s the let down afterward,” Ghaemmaghami said. “Because of the COVID pandemic, because of last year, people not being able to see their loved ones and there have been deaths and dissolutions of some families due to COVID. It is very real to have depression around the holidays.”

She said the most important thing to do this holiday season is to connect and remind people they are not alone.

“Connectedness is the number one thing and finding ways to stay connected, whether it is social media, whether it is making a phone call, checking on people,” Ghaemmaghami said.

Ghaemmaghami said suicide is the second leading cause of death among teens in the U.S. and the 10th leading cause of death in the nation.

You can find mental health resources below:

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