Cree psychologist says January brings increase in family, domestic violence

It’s January – Christmas is over, bills are coming in and the temperature outside is dropping. That, Cree psychologist Leigh Sheldon says, is why it’s not just the second Monday in January that is considered “blue.”

“It isn’t just Blue Monday. In general, January is a very difficult month for our people that we work with,” Sheldon says. “In January, we find there are more issues with income, not having enough money to get access to food.

“Also, as Christmas is over, we see more domestic violence and family violence. We also see an increase with addictions.”

Sheldon says that embracing your culture can help keep people from feeling depressed or anxious.

“One of the things with our Indigenous people is just being very mindful about our culture, and how culture ceremonies are so important,” says Sheldon. “Access to those round dances and sweats and our land. As I’m drinking our Indigenous tea, it’s really important to have access and connect with those medicines and teachings.”

Blue Monday
Chevi Rabbbit says she seeks professional help when feeling depressed. Photo: Chris Stewart/APTN.

Chevi Rabbit is a long-time LGBTQ2S activist in Edmonton. She says she see a professional for help.

“I have severe seasonal depression so sometimes I’ll be in bed up to 14 days in the winter,” says Rabbit. “In recent years, I definitely think the gay-bashing incident, the stalking, the bullying, and the different layers of being a public advocate has added to that pressure on top of the Canadian Indigenous experience.”

She’s not alone. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health says that in any given year, one in five Canadians will experience mental health issues. By the time you reach 40, you have a 50 per cent chance of experiencing a mental illness.

Sheldon says taking care of your body is an important step.

‘Just from a brain perspective, because I do study trauma, really good habits of routine is really effective. What you are eating, what you are drinking, your sleep,” says Sheldon. “When you are breathing, are you deep breathing? Are you really taking care of yourself?”