fine 121820GLENVIEW – To help Illinoisans enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season, State Senator Laura Fine (D-Glenview) partnered with the Conference of Women Legislators and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to host a virtual Q&A on coping with mental health challenges over the holidays.

Senator Fine was joined by NAMI Illinois State Program Director Teri Latter and Professor Mary E. Garrison, a professor of social work at Millikin University, who offered expert advice to help residents stay well during times of stress. State Representative Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) also joined the conversation.

“We are in the middle of a holiday season like no other, and it’s critical that we have the tools and resources to care for our mental health during this time,” Senator Fine said. “I learned so much from Teri and Mary about how to process the emotions we’re all experiencing, and I hope others can watch the video and benefit from the conversation as well.”

The panelists discussed ways to manage a variety of common stressors facing families this year, including being separated from loved ones and maintaining holiday traditions during the pandemic.

“There's no doubt that the holidays, while being a great time for family gatherings and celebrations, are often fraught with stress, anxiety and even depression. Layer COVID on top of that, and many people will be struggling this year,” Latter said. “That's why it's so important to acknowledge that, take care of ourselves and have frank discussions on how to manage things so that the holidays can be enjoyable for everyone.”

Legislators also asked about helping older adults feel included even when they can’t physically be together, negotiating personal relationships in a divisive political climate, and dealing with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and burnout.

The Q&A was cosponsored by the Conference of Women Legislators, a bicameral, bipartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the interests of all Illinois women through state, local and federal initiatives.

“It’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Stay in tune with your emotions, and don’t be afraid to reach out for support,” Senator Fine said. “If you’re feeling hopeless or overwhelmed—or even if you just need someone to talk to—NAMI Illinois can help.”

A recording of the conversation is available here.

For more information on support groups, webinars and other resources NAMI offers, visit or call 1-800-950-NAMI. Those in crisis can reach anonymous, confidential support 24/7 via the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.