HCN News & Notes

This Valentine’s Day, a Little Love Will Go a ‘Beary’ Long Way

HOLYOKE — While stuffed animals may not replace human contact, they can still very much help to ease anxiety and loneliness, reduce stress, provide comfort, help with sleep and trauma, and improve overall mental health. Teddy bears are not only cuddly, they’re comforting.

Meanwhile, rates of depression and anxiety increased 25% globally during the coronavirus pandemic. Young people in particular reported facing mental-health issues during the pandemic’s first year that isolated many in their homes, and rates of suicides among adolescents also increased.

Dr. Michael Margolis, an orthodontist in Wilbraham, has pledged his support to MiraVista Behavioral Health Center’s efforts to provide those in its care, both adolescents and adults, with the benefits of a bear. MiraVista’s “Show A Little Love” drive for bears is running now through Feb. 28.

“Supporting mental healthcare is an area we have not been involved with before, but it is super important,” Margolis said. “I’m looking forward to doing this, and doing it every year if we can.”

Margolis said his patients contribute regularly to his charity projects, which include food and clothing drives. “We see a lot of patients every day, the majority of whom are teens and adolescents, and they seem to like giving back to the community, too,” he added. “A lot of people want to get involved in things but don’t necessarily know the mechanism for doing that, so we try to do that in the office.”

Kimberley Lee, chief of Creative Strategy and Development at MiraVista, explained that the teddy-bear drive is being undertaken as a caring symbol of support for those challenged by their mental health, and the community at large is invited to join Margolis’ efforts.

“We are grateful to Dr. Margolis and the many patients of his practice for launching this drive, and we invite the community to participate,” Lee said. “We recognize in the work that our staff does every day at MiraVista that mental healthcare is as important as physical care to a person’s well-being, and the importance of supporting anyone seeking help for mental and behavioral-health issues that are interfering with their daily life.”

A collection box is available in the front lobby of MiraVista Behavioral Health Center, which is located at 1233 Main St. in Holyoke. Contact Lee at (413) 264-3042 or klee@miravistabhc.care to learn more or to donate a bear.