Hello, holiday season! It’s that time of year again; when the malls fill up with crowds of people hustling from store to store looking to find the perfect gift for the special people in their lives, and delivery boxes appear on front porches in our neighborhoods.
Many of us have one gift that we’ll always remember fondly. A counselor here at Outreach Teen & Family Services recently shared a memory of being in second grade, and her father bringing home a large box with a tiny, yellow Labrador retriever inside, complete with a green and red checkered bow tied around her neck. Now that’s a memorable gift!
While fuzzy slippers and the latest video game are great, what about those intangible gifts that last long after the decorations have been put away, and wrapping paper recycled?
Counseling is one of those intangible gifts. Research has shown that finding a counselor who is a good fit and attending sessions on a regular basis can decrease anxiety, improve relationships, mitigate stress, create emotional balance, increase assertiveness, and resolve trauma.
At Outreach Teen & Family Services, clients have told therapists that they are talking openly about their mental health and sharing helpful coping strategies with their friends. These conversations can be transformational, educating others that mental health is equally as important as physical health; taking care of both leads to living a happy and healthy life!
When teens tell their friends that they cannot hang out because they have a counseling appointment after school, these honest conversations decrease the stigma that surrounds seeking professional counseling and increase awareness of the many ways counseling can improve a person’s mental health. Spreading the word is one of the best gifts they can give themselves, their families and communities.
Over the holidays, don’t forget to catch up on Outreach Teen & Family Services’ new monthly podcast, Teens Tap In, hosted by two incredible Mt. Lebanon High School seniors and Outreach junior board members, Caroline Cozzens and Sydney Saba. Teens Tap In is an engaging podcast that works to destigmatize mental health by having open conversations on multiple mental health topics ranging from teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, to community policing, minority mental health stigma and myriad other topics. Episodes air the third Thursday of each month and are available on all major podcast platforms. Thank you to St. Clair Health for being our annual sponsor.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!
Outreach Teen & Family Services  is a nonprofit, confidential counseling service. We offer programs to youth ages 5 to 21, parents and families, in a welcoming, supportive environment. 412-561-5405. This column is partially underwritten by the Mt. Lebanon Police Association.