GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This is the time of the year where the days feel shorter and the sun doesn’t shine quite as much, which can lead to the winter blues.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is working to help people cope by offering mental health resources.

Those shorter days can be difficult for most and with that comes anxiety, depression and isolation. Doctors say they generally see a rise in depression and grief during the winter months and COVID-19 isn’t helping.

The state health department doesn’t want you to go through any of this alone, so they are offering free confidential conversations with a trained crisis counselor.

The crisis counselor is available 24/7 for any resident in the state who wants help.

“The risks of people having emotional strain already when they are strained is higher, so we wanted to provide those resources. We want people to know there is access to help if you need it,” said Dr. Debra Pinals, the medical director for behavioral health and forensics.

MDHHS also offers the following tips:

  • Stay active, even if it is doing small things each day.
  • Eat a balanced diet and get enough sleep.
  • Keep a schedule and try to get fresh air every day.
  • Try to find a small pleasure for yourself within each day.
  • Avoid using too much alcohol and avoid drugs.
  • Create a buddy system to have someone you can call when you feel down.
  • Set boundaries on how you want to spend your time in a way that works for you. Be respectful of others who may want things from you, but remember to take care of yourself.
  • Seek professional help if you need it.

You can call 888.536.6136 and press “8” to talk to someone if you feel you are in distress. You can also visit michigan.gov/staywell for a list of more resources.