Mental Health America seeks volunteers before the holidays [Volunteer column] | Together
We have entered the time of year that I recently saw referenced on a meme as “Hallowthanksmas”. But the cold in the air, the excitement of the upcoming holidays, and the prospect of giving and receiving gifts don’t resonate positively with everyone. Cooler temperatures are a worrying sign of future hardship for people who live outdoors or in vehicles. Family reunions can refresh childhood memories of heated arguments, drunken fights, or painful neglect. The extra costs that vacations tend to bring can weigh on a person on a fixed income to the point of making unhealthy decisions.
COVID-19 was a stark reminder that we, as a species, don’t do well in isolation. As you reflect on your vacation plans and how you spend your time, please take a moment to think about those who experienced an isolated “COVID existence” before 2020, primarily the elderly and those living with HIV. mental illness. Without family, trusted friends, or advocates, it can be difficult to live successfully in the community and maintain mental well-being.
Mental Health America always accepts applications from caring people to offer a one-on-one friendship to someone recovering from mental illness and receiving mental health treatment. The volunteer is not meant to be a therapist, social worker or counselor, just a friend. Matchmaking is done on the basis of location, personal preferences, and common interests and hobbies, and all friendship matches are of the same gender. Compeer volunteers are people of all ages, backgrounds, races and religions who enjoy company and helping people. If you have four extra hours per month over the course of a year, consider becoming a “friend”. You don’t have overtime? Consider calling your peers. Just one 15 minute phone call once a week can make an amazing difference in someone’s life. Compeer offers free training, enrichment and support to volunteers. More information:mhalancaster.org/friends-volunteers/ or dial 717-397-7461.
If you know someone who is struggling, there are a variety of resources that can help them on their way back to mental wellness:
– Lancaster Crisis Response: 717-394-2631
– National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
– Free Crisis Text Line: Email “MHA” to 717-741-1234
– Contact the hotline: 717-299-4855
– Contact Teenline: 717-394-2000
To find other opportunities, visit uwlanc.org/volunteer. Volunteer Coordinators, please email your current and upcoming needs to [email protected]
Cindi Moses is Executive Vice President of United Way of Lancaster County.