Mental Health Association offers options during the stress of the holidays

Googling “stress and the holidays,” you quickly learn that stress is to be expected this time of year, and there are many suggestions for how to handle it.

Stopping by the Jamestown office of the Mental Health Association in Chautauqua County (MHA), you could see a notice that asks “Need Help Surviving the Holidays?” along with information about one of the more than 30 groups and classes that meet regularly in Jamestown’s Gateway Center.

Some of these groups aim directly at reducing stress and teaching means of relaxation. They include:

¯ Recover yoga, that explores recovery in mind, body, and soul: Mondays, 7:30-9 p.m.

¯ Knitting for Wellbeing, which requires no experience for this avocation that has been demonstrated to reduce depression, anxiety and chronic pain: Wednesdays @ 10-11 a.m.

Mindfulness, that teaches meditation skills: Thursdays, 9:30-10:30 a.m. There is also a Mindfulness class at the MHA’s Dunkirk office on Mondays, 11:15 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Other groups and classes are more indirect in their approach, like Recovery Cooking (Mondays, 10:30-11:30 a.m.) and Recovery Crafts (Wednesdays @ 10-11 a.m.).

The MHA offers several PTSD groups that focus on developing skills to heal trauma for people in recovery. The PTSD Poetry group that meets on Thursdays, 2-3 p.m., is distinctive in that the leader suggests a subject, e.g., “holiday traditions,” around which participants can write a poem or even draw a picture, then share what they have expressed.

The range of MHA groups and classes includes support for families and friends of those in recovery, a wellness group for the LGBTQIA+ community, anger management, and a resume workshop.

The Jamestown program opens at 9 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Closing time on Mondays is 7 p.m., Thursdays is 8 p.m., Saturdays is 2 p.m., and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays is 4 p.m.

A complete listing and description of all MHA groups and classes in Jamestown and Dunkirk can be found at www.MHAChautauqua.org/groups.

The MHA’s program at Grace Lutheran Church, 601 Eagle Street in Dunkirk, is offering something special before it closes at noon on Christmas Eve day, Tuesday, December 24: From 10 a.m. to noon will be an opportunity to gather with others to make holiday crafts. Regular Dunkirk hours are Mondays and Tuesdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with a noon closing on New Year’s Eve.

The MHA in Jamestown will also close at noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The only group meeting Christmas Day and New Year’s Day will be the Chautauqua County Alternatives to Suicide, a support group for people who have struggled with suicide attempts or thoughts, 5:30-7 p.m.

For any kind of help, 24 hours a day, seven days a week you can call or text 2-1-1 for a free and confidential link to health and human services. Resources can also be found on the MHA’s website at MHAChautauqua.org/resources.

The Mental Health Association is a peer recovery support center offering support groups and individual coaching for people looking to improve their lives in recovery.

Anyone with questions or in need of services for themselves or a family member is welcome to call or stop in at the Jamestown facility at Door 14 in the rear of the Gateway Center, 31 Water Street. On non-holidays, the program opens at 9 a.m. Mondays-Saturdays. Closing time on Mondays is 7 p.m., Thursdays is 8 p.m., Saturdays is 2 p.m., and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays is 4 p.m.

To learn more about the MHA, call (716) 661-9044 or visit MHAChautauqua.org or facebook.com/MHAChautauqua.

To learn more about OPEN (Occupational Peer Empowerment Network) that focuses on workforce development by helping participants overcome barriers to gaining, maintaining, and thriving as employees, phone (716) 490-4438, email OPEN@MHAChautauqua.org, or visit MHAChautauqua.org/OPEN.