Crisis Prevention and Management for the Holidays

Our Havertown NAMI Family Support Group will meet on Tuesday, November 20, from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church of Llanerch (211 Lansdowne Rd. in Havertown, PA 19083).  This is a free, confidential and safe group of families helping other families who live with mental health challenges. In this support group, families join a caring group of individuals helping one another by utilizing their collective lived experiences and learned wisdom. Family members can achieve a renewed sense of hope for their loved one living with mental health challenges.  For more information, please contact Nora at

Our NAMI Connection Recovery Support Group meets weekly on Tuesday evenings. This is a free, peer support group for adults living with mental illness, run and led by NAMI-trained facilitators. You will gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others in a confidential setting. By sharing your experiences, you can gain hope and you can develop relationships with a group dedicated to productive discussion. The group encourages empathy and fosters a sense of community. To sign up and for more information, including the location and time of our meetings, please contact Hannah Cooper (215) 806-6178 or Danielle Sulpizio (484) 880-0660.

Our Parent Peer Support Group meets on Wednesday nights from 6:45-8:15 p.m. for parents with a middle or high school child who is challenged with mental health symptoms.  Please note that this group will not meet on November 21 due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  The peer support group is designed to be a safe, confidential place to share your experiences and learn from others. The group is facilitated by Nancy Dever and Debbie Gillespie and will be held at Wayne Presbyterian Church, Room 207, 125 E. Lancaster Ave, Wayne. For questions or to RSVP, contact Nancy Dever at or call 610-574-3319.

Feature of the Week: Crisis Prevention and Management for the Holidays

Notes from our 2017 workshop by Ellen Berman, MD and Amanda Falivene-Rocco, LPC, CPRP

The purpose of holiday ritual is to connect us to family and community, and connect our present to our past and our future.  Holidays provide a break in routine and a marker of time passing.  They can be stressful because there is such a demand that everyone be happy, that the day be perfect and that we live up to the families in all the ads and pictures.  The truth, of course is that no holiday is perfect, that it is difficult to deal with family issues when people are together for such a short period of time, and that it is hard to be happy when a family member is ill or in pain.

The following recommendations are suggestions to make the days easier and prevent crises.  Happy and sad moments will come and go.  Being together is enough; it doesn’t have to be perfect.

No Holiday is Perfect: Lower Your Expectations and Keep Your Hopes
  • If someone in the house is very ill, should you have the gathering at your house? Restaurants or friend’s houses are often helpful.
  • If your house: Who comes and when?
  • When family members do not want to speak with each other.
  • Including the memory of family members after a death.
  • Talk ahead of time about what adjustments need to be made for an ill member; what are triggers and what is calming.
  • Do other guests or family members know about the illness?
  • Think through what rituals are really important.  (Do not argue with an ill person about church or synagogue participation, sitting through a whole dinner, etc.)
  • Major announcements (I’m gay, I’m changing my religion, I’m moving to Australia) should not be made during a family dinner.
  • Keep alcohol out of the house as much as possible
  • Keep the food, presents and decorations simple.  Ask others to bring food or help out.
  • Know and make clear what boundaries are.
  • Have someone assigned to check in on an ill loved one if necessary.
  • Make space for alone time and private conversations.
  • In general, people whose illness has derailed their life course feel embarrassed at family gatherings. Have an all-purpose answer ready to “how are you really” (to you), and “what are you doing next year” (to an ill young person).
  • If it’s at your house, assign people to help prepare and clean up beforehand.
  • Expect moments of sadness in you and family members; don’t demand happiness.

For those who would like to have a more concrete plan in place, the Wellness Recovery Action Plan® or WRAP®, is a guided, self-designed prevention and wellness process that a person with or without mental illness can use to get well, stay well and make their life the way they want it to be.

For more information about WRAP, go to

Additional resources that can help you cope with, prepare for or prevent a crisis are available at

Upcoming Events 

Mental Health Partnerships will have their Adult Daughters, Sons and Siblings Educational Support Group (for adults who have/had a parent or sibling with a mental health disorder), beginning with a discussion about When Mood Disorders Have Psychotic Features on Tuesday, November 20, from 7-9 p.m. at Belmont Behavioral Hospital. No fee. Registration is preferred, but not required. Contact or 267-507-3863.

The Pennsylvania Mental Health and Wellness Conference “Stronger Together” will be held May 20- 21, 2019 in Harrisburg Pennsylvania. The event is organized by NAMI Keystone, the Mental Health Association of Pennsylvania and PA Mental Health Consumer Association and it aims to unite peers, family members, advocates and professionals for a one-of-a-kind statewide mental health event. For more information, go to:  Workshop proposals are being accepted until November 30th, for more information, please go to

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