The October Crisis

October holds World Mental Health Day, and it’s no wonder. Mental health crisis often spikes in October. The reasons for the spike are unclear, but I have long hypothesized that the academic calendar plays a big role. School starts in the fall, and the pace of life is in full force, often becoming overwhelming, by October. When I was in psychiatry residency training, we referred to the phenomenon as the “October Crisis.”

This October has been no exception. There has been a surge in suicide attempts and drug overdoses. Teens run away, school age children threaten self-harm, college students drop out, and overwhelmed parents seek support for their distress. 

To cope with the most difficult part of the year, families needs support and structure. 

Families under stress can benefit from support, long before any kind of crisis starts brewing. Sources of support include:
•    Faith communities
•    Mentors
•    School counselors
•    Community agencies
•    Mental health professionals

Creating structure can help prevent crisis, or get things under control quickly for a struggling family
•    Regular bedtimes and wake times
•    Homework rules and schedules
•    Tutoring
•    Careful decisions about the extent of extracurricular activities
•    Parental monitoring
•    Family dinners
•    Down time

If a family is overwhelmed, the first place to begin is usually with a school professional or a counseling professional. Seeking advice can keep a stressful time of year from turning into an all out crisis. 

Posted on October 24, 2016 .