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Help for holiday blues one call away with Baltimore Crisis Line

Posted at 12:22 PM, Dec 05, 2016

During the holidays you're bombarded with advertisements that show happy families and big ticket presents.

This provides high expectations, which are often not met, making people depressed and angry, Edgar Wiggins, Executive Director of Baltimore Crisis Response Incorporated said.

About 64% of people are affected by the "holiday blues", here's some tips to keep you happy:

  • Keep expectations manageable. Try to set realistic goals. Organize time, make a list, and prioritize important activities.
  • Be realistic about what can be done. Don't put the entire focus on just one day-it's a season of holiday sentiment, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish feelings of sadness or loneliness. There is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others or reach out to a friend in need of support.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at the holiday decorations, walking or hiking, or going to the park with children.
  • Be aware of excessive drinking. It can increase feelings of stress, loss, or loneliness.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends or connect with someone you haven't heard from in a while.
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries by exercising or setting aside quite time for mindfulness, yoga, or meditation. 
    -Behavior Health System Baltimore

For some, it becomes more serious, and that's what Wiggins said the Baltimore Crisis Line is for.

Wiggins said the line gets an average of 110 calls a day, from people struggling with a variety of issues, "probably 10% of those calls have to do with someone that's in a suicidal crisis... probably about 30-40% of the calls that come in have to do with people who have substance abuse issues... the rest of the calls kind of range, some of those calls deal with people who are having psychiatric symptoms, people in a mental health crisis."

"When you advertise yourself as a hotline, any type of call can come in," Wiggins said they get calls from domestic violence incidents, calls from abused children, homeless people, etc.

Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. not only answers calls and calms people down, they have a mobile crisis team and connect people with services in the area.

"Our teams can respond to houses, street corners, the homeless shelters and try to provide services to people. The innovation the past year for us is that we have entered into a partnership with Healthcare Access Maryland. They have been providing services as well, in terms of linking people." Wiggins said.

The crisis line has anywhere from 6 to 1 receptionists during the day. Peak hours are around 2 p.m. into the early evening, when more receptionists are working. Overnight, only a few calls come in, when 1 person is working.

Those overnight calls can be the most serious.

"We get calls that come in at all hours of the day, but people who are really struggling often call in the middle of the night. There's something, I think, about calling in the middle of the night that's kind of this idea, of do I want to face another day?" Wiggins said.

 Wiggins said there's a myth about more suicides during the holiday season. Statistics show most suicides happen during the Spring.

"You can survive the Winter if you're depressed you know, because the outside matches your inside, but when Spring comes and the flowers are blooming, if you are in fact depressed there's much more likelihood that you may die by suicide," Wiggins said.

Upstairs in a purple tinted room, sit four call workers, each in a cubicle, with a computer and a phone. Some have inspiring quotes on their wall, others have a crisis call flow chart with questions to ask callers, like "Are you in immediate physical danger". 

Quinita Garrett sits in the far right cubicle in the corner of the room, and has been at the call center for three years. 

As we talked about her interest in human services, a loud beep, something like you would hear in a hospital room, interrupted.

Garrett explained they also receive lifeline calls from the National Suicide Lifeline.

Garrett said growing up, she had family members who struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol, "I wanted to be in the middle of it and help people out."

Her most memorable calls have been the most heartbreaking, "a lot of people are evicted from their homes, and they have like four or five kids and they have nowhere to go."

With the crisis line, she's been able to get them connected to services. Something she wishes her family members knew about sooner.

"When I was growing up they didn't know about the crisis line, which is really sad because some of the people I know could've been helped had they known about the crisis line," Garrett said.

You can call 410-433-5175 anytime for help.