PHILADELPHIA – Starting today and throughout the holiday season, the city’s behavioral health department will be calling on Philadelphians to take a quick online pledge to “check in” on family and friends who are suffering from the holiday blues for reasons that range from losing a loved one to losing a job. Anyone can take the pledge, which encourages individuals to also be mindful of their own holiday wellness, at through January 1, 2018.

While the holiday season can be a joyous time of celebration, cheer and family fun for many, studies show that as many as 30 million Americans experience feelings of depression during the holidays. People who are spending the holidays alone while those around them gather with family and friends may be especially vulnerable. Experts say a phone call, text message, email, visit or invitation may help lift the spirits of a person who is troubled and experiencing difficulties this time of year.

“Having the holiday blues is a real phenomenon that’s often overlooked causing many people to suffer through sadness, loneliness and hurt in silence as holiday parties and other festivities abound all around them,” said David T. Jones, the city’s behavioral health commissioner. “Without even realizing it, people can easily become so preoccupied with the various demands, hectic schedules and overall excitement of the holidays that they forget to check in on others or fail to notice a loved one’s mood shifting from happy to sad at holiday time.”

Jones said the department’s hope is that by taking the pledge, more Philadelphians will become more mindful that the holidays are not as enjoyable for some as they are for others and that their increased awareness will cause them to pause during the holidays to check in on others and themselves.

Research shows that some people who experience holiday sadness or depression have feelings that are triggered by the holidays but go away when the season ends while others experience a more severe depression that triggers during the holiday season and lasts well into the New Year.

In addition to creating an online pledge, Philadelphia’s behavioral health officials will take their “Mind Your Holidays” campaign to Jefferson Station on December 15th from 8:30 am to 12:30 p.m. and encourage those walking by to take the pledge on the spot using an iPad.

Those who do will be given a certificate of completion to take with them and anyone who stops by will have an opportunity to take a free behavioral health screening with a trained clinician and get a “check-up from the neck up.” Officials will be set up near the Mayflower Floral Shop accessible through the underground entrance at 12th and Filbert Streets.