Springtime Challenge

Springtime Challenge


Myth – the rate of suicide goes up in the winter.

Fact – the suicide rate goes up in the spring.



This reality seems counter-intuitive.  After all, isn’t Spring the time when we can at last go outside and bask, hike, eat, camp, bike, walk, bird-watch and all that in the radiance and warmth of the glowing sun?

Scientists have puzzled over this for years.   Many possible explanations abound, including highly physiological ones, such as one proposing that an inflammatory response may be the cause.

There is good reason to pursue these ideas, but there could be a combination of effects, as is so often the case in behavioral health.  As a social worker with a background in suicide prevention hotlines, I have heard countless people talk about how they feel more “themselves” on cloudy days and how the sunny days of Spring often leave them feeling depressed.    It has often seemed to me that the outside “mood” of rainy weather was more compatible with their internal states of mind.  This compatibility seemed to be comforting to them.  The coming of Spring, however, seemed jarring to their internal state.  They talked more about wanting meaningful relationships – and they seemed to perceive that everyone else had them.  “After all,” they would point out, “look at all the couples walking hand-in-hand out there.  Look at all the families having picnics.”

In the winter – especially during the holidays –  the radio waves and social media outlets are full of messages of hope and compassion for those who are struggling.  Hence a person feeling outside of the mainstream knows that he/she has company.  Not so in Spring.  This season is expected to cure our emotional woes.  For many people who struggle through depression, this unfulfilled promise is deeply disappointing and may trigger thoughts of earlier let-downs.

How can we help our loved ones feel better when they seem not to join the celebration of Spring?  First, it helps simply to recognize that we don’t all react the same way to the new season.  Second, showing someone that you’ve noticed their struggle, and by extension that you’ve noticed them, can make a huge difference.   A gentle invitation (without advice) to take a walk, or perhaps to do something indoors like going out for lunch, can make a difference.  Any way that you can show this person in your life that you notice them, see their struggle, and want to help in a way that’s comfortable for them will go a long way.  If you’re feeling pushed aside when you do this, then it might be helpful for you to find some professional support and guidance on how best to assist.


At MHA we offer lots of support to individuals who are living through behavioral health challenges.  We also assist their families and friends.  Most of that help is free.  For more information, please call us at 845-267-2172, x296.





New Program in Recovery Services

According to recent research published by The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights, approximately 50% of prison and jail inmates meet the clinical criteria for substance abuse or dependence. Data from a national study in five major American cities show that at the time of arrest, 63% – 83% of arrestees have drugs in their system. These statistics speak to the importance of individuals who need substance use treatment having access to quality care, before, during, and after periods of incarceration.

MHA of Rockland is proud of our Recovery Services program, a medically supervised outpatient clinic offering prevention and treatment services for children, adolescents and adults impacted by personal and familial drug and alcohol use. This program serves more than 500 individuals a year, helping to break the family cycle of addiction, and supporting people in building positive and meaningful lives.

In addition to our Recovery Services program, we are excited to announce that our trained staff will now be providing weekly drug treatment groups in the Rockland County jail. Separate groups will be offered, free of charge, for men and women who wish to access support and treatment during their incarceration. Prior to release, individuals will also be helped to connect to community based resources, both at MHA and other agencies, to further their recovery efforts. It is yet another new initiative that strengthens our mission of connecting people, educating families, and rebuilding lives.

SOS Group

How do we console someone who has lost a loved one to suicide?

Many people who have lost a loved one to suicide tell us what they want most is to know that people care about them and are not judging them or the loved one they are grieving. The death of a loved one through any cause is painful, but losing someone we love to suicide adds another layer of pain and emotions to the experience of loss.

In our attempt to help, we can listen to what has helped others in this situation:

* Be there even if you don’t know what to do or say. The comfort of food, flowers, donations to causes, offers to help with final plans, and babysitting, can bring some comfort to those who are grieving

* Mention by name the person who has died and talk about his/her positive qualities and what you loved about him/her. People don’t want their loved one to be forgotten.

* Listen to your friend’s experience and try to understand what he/she is going through. Sometimes we need to stop ourselves from saying what we might think is helpful, but doesn’t really help those in sorrow, such as “You’re so strong”, “time heals all wounds”, “you will love again”. Our best intentions can be offered in words like “We love you and ________ (lost loved one)”, “What can we do to be helpful right now?” and “How are you getting along?”

* Be aware that other relatives and friends such as children and grandparents can often be overlooked.

* Take care of yourself and know your limitations – when a friend is hurting it takes its toll on you, too.

* As time passes, people appreciate those who remember the anniversary date and birthday of their loved one because they don’t want that person to be forgotten and never mentioned.

* Suffering a loss to suicide is a long-term bereavement. Your acceptance of that and not expecting a person to “snap out of it” will be appreciated.

Marcella Amorese 845 267 2172 x324


Please join us at our next meeting. Download a copy of our flyer here.


American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Toll-Free: 1-888-333-AFSP (2377)

SOS Support Group for Survivors of Suicide, MHA of RC 845-267-2172

(A professionally facilitated group for those who have lost someone to suicide)

How Technology Can Help With Mental Health Recovery

The importance of interpersonal connection in mental health treatment doesn’t need to be argued. We need another person to get support and encouragement for new skills development; we need to feel accepted and loved before we can heal an old trauma; we need someone who would give us a hope in overcoming depression and other mental health issues.

But what if depression, low self-esteem, embarrassment, fear or social anxiety are in the way of connecting to others? In most of these cases, people prefer to isolate without asking for help or they stay away from making progress in their recovery.

Technology has opened a new era in mental health support. There are multiple web-based and phone applications which allow you to not only get information about your diagnosis, symptoms and medication side effects, they help you to monitor and manage your mood, improve your memory, develop critical thinking. They improve your time management and communication skills, they provide opportunities for budgeting money and even allow you to virtually travel to the country of your dream.

Along with the direct benefits of computer and phone-based applications, it was noticed that technology has a lot of indirect positive effects. The latest example is the game “Pokemon Go” which according to self-reports, has an unexpected improvement in depression and anxiety. The game makes people leave their houses and go out, which is not easy for people struggling with depression. Evidence-based practice shows that web-based and computer applications help people to stay focused and engaged which has been a real obstacle in mental health treatment. They increase motivation and stimulate self-directed activities.

Being aware and excited about multiple opportunities that technology offers to the mental health field, we are implementing new approaches and methods in the group treatment modality in our PROS program. Our members work on computer projects creating wellness tools for themselves to manage uncomfortable feelings. Group participants develop daily living skills, while expanding their knowledge about resources available in the community working with web-based applications. We are looking forward to exploring other technologies and applying them in our practice to help people with rebuilding their lives for a more satisfactory and productive future

Tatyana Yelizarova, PhD

Professional Clinician, PROS