For the past nine months, Beverly Therapists, a diverse group of mental wellness practitioners, has hosted a series of monthly two-hour “Wellness Seminars” on every second Saturday, each featuring a different therapist who customizes the session to their area of practice. Past sessions have included: “Journaling for Wellness,” “For Teens: The Road to Adulthood,” and “For Parents: The Love for Social Media.” Some of their upcoming seminars for the new decade include: “For Couples: Shifting Communication Patterns,” “The Hidden Trauma in School Struggles,” and “How to Better Understand Your Teen.”
These sessions are just one example of how Beverly Therapists has, since 2010, provided mental health resources, education and outreach for the South Side community. At ten dollars each, the seminars are accessible, and participants can register online to reserve a space. The therapists accept most insurance providers, and each therapist offers sliding scale fees for those without insurance.
I spoke to Lisa Catania, a licensed clinical social worker and one of the founding members of Beverly Therapists. She’ll lead their next monthly seminar, “Intentionally Creating Peace,” on December 14th.
Catania knows all too well how the holidays are not always a happy time of year for everyone. She explained that the holidays are a time of increased stress even in the best of times, and that living on the South Side can bring its own set of stressors. Just as there are food deserts on the South Side, there are barriers to mental wellness. Many people struggle with transportation barriers, unable to travel to locations where services are available; others need meds they can’t afford. Many of these barriers have been exacerbated in recent years by the closing of many public mental health facilities.
Those problems often overlap with more systemic oppressions, and seeking treatment for any mental health problems is complicated by both the cultural stigma attached to mental health and the complexities of the American healthcare system. Catania says people have been conditioned to put up with negative emotions in a way we aren’t expected to put up with physical ailments. We’ve become complacent and have learned how to put up with being neglected, shoving aside the invisible issues of mental health.
Catania says the constant barrage of holiday ads showing excitement, festivities, and gift-giving tries to make us feel things we may not feel if we have had a recent or past loss of a loved one, are experiencing family problems that create divisions and separation, or are far away from home and caregivers. If you find yourself in one of these groups this holiday season, here are a dozen recommendations for navigating the weeks ahead:
- Acknowledge how you feel and make adjustments.
- Take extra care to be kind, patient, and caring with yourself.
- Engage in stress reducing activities, like physical exercise, or meditation and yoga.
- Talk to someone trustworthy—be real, especially if you are hurting.
- Release the belief that there is such a thing as “perfect.”
- Remember the importance of what the season means to you and honor that in your actions.
- Balance taking care of yourself, with taking care of others.
- Know your boundaries and limits.
- Practice saying no—Practice saying yes.
- Ask for help when you need it.
- Hold onto whatever feeds your soul.
- Remember to breathe—deeply.
If you are feeling fine and looking forward to the holidays, consider reaching out to someone who seems vulnerable this season. When checking in, take time to really try to listen from the heart without offering solutions or sharing similar stories of your own, but simply hold space for people to feel heard.
Beverly Therapists is located at 10725 S. Western Ave. Open daily from 8am. (773) 310-3488. Sign up for their monthly newsletter and/or register for the monthly wellness series happening on the second Saturday of every month from 3pm–5pm. $10 at beverlytherapists.com
Nicole Bond is the Weekly’s Stage & Screen editor.