Crisis hotline listeners are available to help with problems big and small

Feeling stressed yet? If not, you probably will. Ho, ho, ho.

According to the American Psychology Association, 69 percent of people feel stressed during the holidays due to a sense of having a lack of time, 69 percent by a sense of a lack of money and 51 percent by the pressure of gift-giving.

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Other general pressures offered by various sources include unrealistic expectations; family pressures; too many commitments; a lack of moderation in eating and drinking; taking on additional workloads (especially women); loneliness; and missing a loved one.

The holiday season can pose very real dangers through stress and related health problems – even for those of us who “love the holidays.”

CONTACT We Care has trained volunteer listeners and texters available to help people get through holiday stress or depression. Listeners are trained to provide an empathetic and nonjudgmental ear and all calls are anonymous and confidential. Callers can reach CONTACT by dialing 908-232-2880 or texting “CWC” to 839863.

CONTACT We Care, headquartered in Westfield, is a suicide prevention agency that operates a suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline and provides suicide prevention training to the public.

The agency also offers the following tips for managing stress during the holidays: 

  1. Have Realistic Expectations – Not everything is going to be perfect so do not expect it to be.

  2. Set Realistic Budgets – Spend only what you can afford and talk to your children about not expecting too much.

  3. Set Aside Time for Yourself – Read, exercise, do something you enjoy.

  4. Say No – Do not accept every invitation or go to every function.

  5. Be With People – Surround yourself with loved ones or, if you are alone, join a club or volunteer at a charity.

  6. Eat Right – Minimize the sweets, take reasonable portions and drink no more than usual.

  7. Seek Direction – Do not feel compelled to surprise everyone with their gift – ask them what they want.

  8. Accept Help – If hosting a party or gathering, let others help.

  9. Keep Decorating Simple – Perhaps deck just one hall rather than all of them.

  10. Set aside differences – Let grievances or family squabbles lie. 

“The holidays are a time of joy for many people,” said Joanne Oppelt, executive director of CONTACT We Care. “But they can be very stressful for many people and even depressing for some.

“While we receive calls from many people who are in deep crisis, we also are here for people who are simply overwhelmed by the moment. We are here to help them keep the moment’s stress from building into something more problematic.”

In addition to serving Central and Northern New Jersey, CONTACT We Care is a primary responder to calls to the national suicide prevention line (1-800-273-TALK or 1-800-SUICIDE) that originate in New Jersey.

Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer listener should contact Sue Fasano at 908-301-1899. 

About CONTACT We Care

CONTACT We Care, headquartered in Westfield and with a listening hub in Morristown, is Central and Northern New Jersey’s crisis listening line, receiving more than 17,000 calls per year.  CONTACT brings comfort and hope to people in emotional distress through active, empathetic and nonjudgmental listening.  All calls are free, anonymous and confidential.  If you are in crisis and need someone to listen, call our hotline at 908-232-2880.  We are affiliated with CONTACT USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and the American Association of Suicidology.  For general information about CONTACT We Care or to become a volunteer, call us at 908-301-1899 or visit our website at