KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
December 2, 2020
By Natalie Cook Clark
For many Katy residents struggling with depression, the holidays are not so jolly. Dealing with the pandemic, loss of jobs or loved ones, and isolation, can intensify anxiety and sometimes lead to suicide. Local organizations want residents to know they do not have to suffer in silence, and help is available.
“We have seen a marked increase in callers and clients reporting emotional challenges this holiday season,” says Lizet Benitez, Crisis Center Counselor for Katy Christian Ministries (KCM). “I believe there is a link between this increase and the pandemic. Our clients are starting off at a point of greater vulnerability this holiday season.”
As the pandemic continues into the holiday season, many people face financial strain, food insecurity, post-traumatic stress, and limited access to resources and support.
“Add this to the unprecedented stress of a seemingly unrelenting global pandemic and that makes for a harrowing holiday season for lots of people,” says Benitez.
Hope Impacts Supports Katy Homeless
“There has been an increase in mental health needs across the board during the pandemic, but particularly depression and anxiety,” says Tina Hatcher, founder and executive director for Hope Impacts.
Hope Impacts has seen an increase in Katy-area homelessness by 70%. The non-profit has never shut down but has had to adapt how they serve. Visit their website for more information.
“It is not just a concern for our physical health and health of those we serve but for the other long-lasting effects of this pandemic that affect mental health,” says Hatcher.
Local Authorities Trained in Crisis Intervention
“Depression is an issue for many people during the holidays and I urge anyone struggling during these times to seek help,” says Constable Ted Heap, Harris County Precinct 5. “You are not in this alone. Talk to someone close to you about your suicidal feelings. Or call a suicide hotline and talk to someone who can help you through this difficult time.”
Constable Heap says all deputies that his department hires receive 40 hours of crisis intervention training to be better prepared to help those who are in a mental crisis.
“More than 50 of our deputies are state-certified Mental Health Peace Officers and will be called to the scene to assist in an ongoing crisis situation,” says Constable Heap. “In many cases, our deputies, through their training, have helped prevent a potential suicide and get the subject the help that they need.
Church Community Gives Families Hope
As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, many families are making the decision to isolate themselves during the holidays, which adds to depression as loved ones can’t be together. For many Americans, this will be the first Christmas without a loved one as the virus continues to claim lives.
“This pandemic has changed a lot of things for all of us,” says Reverend Whitney Peper, Care Minister at St. Peter’s United Methodist Church in Katy.
On Monday, December 14 at 7 p.m., St. Peter’s UMC hosts an annual Night of Hope Christmas service at their church at 20755 Kingsland Blvd. This service is open to the community and anyone experiencing grief and loss and looking for comfort.
“Anxiety, sadness, isolation, loss of employment, grief, or any difficult life change can cause us to feel very much alone or may even cause a spiritual crisis,” says Rev. Peper. “Sharing your concerns with someone you trust can help lighten your burden.”
Katy and the greater Houston area have a lot of resources to help those struggling so no one has to feel alone or be without help.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis call 911.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-8255
Katy Christian Ministries’ Crisis Center has 24-hour support for those experiencing abuse.
Domestic Abuse: 281-391-4357
Sexual Assault: 281-693-7273
Harris County, Precinct 5 offers crisis intervention and victim's assistance. Learn more about their services here.
Many local churches have resources and lists of area therapists able to help.
Numbers to know:
1-800-273-8255- Suicide Hotline
877-226-3111- Addiction Hotline
844-228-2962- Eating Disorder Hotline
877-455-0628- Self Harm Hotline
888-640-5174- Depression Hotline
“Coping strategies that may have been successful for you or a loved one before may not work anymore,” says Benitez. “We may have to reevaluate and redevelop our coping plan.”
“Focus on things you can control,” advises Benitez.
Some good habits to focus on include:
Establishing daily routines
Getting outdoors, getting more light
Maintaining good sleeping and eating schedules
Staying socially connected
Learning and talking about your emotions
“I think that we can all benefit from being heard in a safe space,” says Hatcher. “This pandemic is affecting everyone’s mental health if we are honest about it. It’s OK to not be OK and seek help to care for ourselves.”