Dr. Shairi Turner, Chief Health Officer at Crisis Text Line, shares her best advice for getting the help you need during the holiday season.
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Crisis Text Line
Woman calling the crisis hotline.
| Credit: Getty Images

As Christmas and New Year's Eve roll around, many people may feel hopeless, lonely or like they are not worthy of love and compassion.

However, there are options and you are never alone. The Crisis Text Line has volunteers 24/7 that can help you.

In an exclusive interview with People Chica, Dr. Shairi Turner, Chief Health Officer at Crisis Text Line, shares how you can identify signs of crisis in yourself and others, the resources available for help to Latinos and how you can break the stigma surrounding mental health.

Crisis Text Line
Woman calling the crisis hotline.
| Credit: Courtesy of the Crisis Text Line

The death by suicide of several celebrities has sparked concern this year. What are some ways in which people can remain vigilant for potential suicide risks?

In a time when Americans are facing a mental health crisis and suicide rates are skyrocketing— especially in communities of color—it's critical that people are aware of the coping mechanisms and resources that can help them, along with their friends and family, when struggling with anxiety, depression and isolation. 

Here are a few tips to help identify and deal with the warning signs in yourself or with family and friends:  

  • Watch for Changes: Identify a loss of interest in activities, changes in friendship circles, increased or decreased sleep or appetite changes.  Also, look for any instances of self-harm or cutting, drug or alcohol use. Know that hopelessness, sadness and depression can show up as anger and distractibility for some. When it comes to yourself, notice if you are starting to withdraw from people, experience long periods of irritability or sadness or any of the above symptoms. 
  • Communicate Openly: Sometimes the warning signs can be subtle or not obvious. Speak clearly, empathetically and directly about mental health and well-being. Let your friends or family know that you are available for the conversation and that you really care about how they are doing. 
  • Always Ask: Try the  'Always Ask' method to open a conversation about any recent observations –as research shows that  this will not cause anyone to attempt suicide or self-harm.   
    • For example, "I heard you say that you feel hopeless about your situation….that is a very normal feeling when faced with a difficult challenge….but I want to check in to see if you are having thoughts of harming yourself/ hurting yourself/ death/dying etc".   
  • Talk to an expert: Consider speaking with a therapist, doctor or counselor about any concerns you are having. Remind yourself how important it is to act early–and to not wait for the situation to reach crisis level-to try to intervene or seek help.  
Crisis Text Line
Credit: Courtesy of the Crisis Text Line

The holidays can be a time of suffering for people who feel lonely or isolated. How can they reach the right resources or help?

It's important to remember you are not alone, and there are many ways to combat feelings of loneliness and isolation that are unique to you. Some suggestions include reaching out to friends or family, or being friendly and interacting with people you see in your daily life. If you are looking to get more involved, consider volunteering for a good cause.

Tapping into your inherent empathy—we all have it—and helping someone else is a great way to ease feelings or amplify moments of connection and ease loneliness. Other ways to find resources include having discussions with your physician, counselors or trusted friends who may have recommendations for therapists.

Many therapists now are available for telemental health which offers additional access to services.  Also, Crisis Text Line is always available. A crisis to you is a crisis to us. There is nothing that you have to handle alone.

People may feel afraid or hesitant to call a helpline. How can they feel more at ease to do so?

Crisis Text Line provides text-based mental health support and crisis intervention in English and Spanish so texters don't have to feel anxious about picking up a phone to talk to someone if they feel uncomfortable. We are completely anonymous and confidential.

Crisis Text Line
Credit: Courtesy of the Crisis Text Line

Text-based services are a discreet way for anyone, especially young people, to make a connection and seek help during challenging moments. Whether it's at the school lunch table in the midst of being bullied or on your first day on the job, reaching out via text messaging enables people to seek support in inconspicuous ways.  

For those seeking help in Spanish, Crisis Text Line's bilingual volunteer Crisis Counselors are available. Our bilingual volunteers complete a language assessment to ensure they are proficient in Spanish to help people in crisis, along with additional training that covers topics such as cultural humility, differences in Spanish dialects, and the use of Spanish through a language justice lens that accounts for non-conforming gender identity.

How can Latinos access the help they need during the holidays with the help of Crisis Text Line?

Anyone in need of support can text HELLO to 741741 for support in English and  Spanish, or text to 443-SUPPORT in WhatsApp for English and 442-AYUDAME for Spanish. Texters are connected with a trained volunteer Crisis Counselor supervised by our mental health professional to ensure everyone receives the help they need.