The California Self-Help Center, funded by the California Department of Mental Health and administered through the UCLA psychology department, is one of only six statewide self-help referral networks in the nation. By calling the center at (800) 222-LINK, Californians may obtain referrals to more than 3,300 free or low-cost self-help support groups statewide.
"Loneliness, depression, family problems, compulsive eating, drinking and overspending can be harder to bear at this time of year," said Bonnie Burstein, clinical psychologist and coordinator of services at the center. "It's important to know you're not alone and that others are experiencing fears, anxieties and sadness. Holiday loneliness can be relieved by joining with others to share feelings and find better ways to cope."
Support groups that can be especially helpful during the holiday season, according to Burstein, are Parents Without Partners, Debtors Anonymous, Compassionate Friends (for bereaved parents), Overeaters Anonymous, Caregivers of Elderly Parents, Adult Children of Alcoholics, Emotional Health Anonymous, Parents and Relatives of AIDS Victims and Families Anonymous.
The center assists callers year-round by locating support groups that deal with emotional problems, physical illnesses, parenting, addictions, bereavement, child abuse, divorce and other concerns. People who share common concerns come together in these groups to offer each other emotional support and practical information.