Mental health concerns rise with many expected to spend Thanksgiving alone this year

Mental health concerns are on the rise as the COVID-19 pandemic forces many people to celebrate Thanksgiving alone.
Thanksgiving is normally a time to feel connected, comforted and included by family. But with virus cases on the rise, many will be spending the holiday experiencing different feelings.
“Distress and despair. Heightened anxiety and depression. People really are having a hard time right now,” says psychologist Dr. Janie Feldman.
Gov. Phil Murphy acknowledged in Monday’s COVID-19 briefing that the stress may be too much for some people to handle and urged those people to seek help.
“Many of you are making arrangements that don’t include family and friends who you yearn to see. If you need a break, you need somebody to talk to, reach out and make the call,” he said.
Feldman says that it would be common and understandable for some to feel isolated during the holidays this year. She says that to keep spirits high, it is important to focus on what they can control.
“Good self-care is essential on a day like Thanksgiving this year, so getting outside for some fresh air and connecting with people the best that we can is a great idea,” she says.
Feldman says that there are several options to stay connected, such as scheduling multiple Zoom meetings throughout the day. She also suggests talking about great memories from past Thanksgivings with older relatives, safely volunteering, and sharing special Thanksgiving recipes with family and neighbors.
She says that while it is worthwhile to reflect on what people are grateful for, if it proves difficult this year, “Think about, ‘What am I looking forward to when this is all over? What are the first things I’m going to do?’”
Feldman says that it may be helpful to plan for next year’s Thanksgiving since optimistic forward thinking can be helpful.
Anyone who may be feeling depressed or in despair this Thanksgiving can call 1-866-202-4357 or text NJHOPE to 51684. All calls are confidential, and callers will speak to a live person.