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Dec 14

The Holidays And Mental Health

by Mike Ferguson

(St. Charles, MO) – It’s easy and common to say things like “this time of year drives me crazy!”. No one means any offense by that and, while “crazy” isn’t the right word to describe it, many people struggle emotionally this time of year.

According to the Missouri Institute of Mental Health’s Andrea Purnell, there is one myth that needs to be busted about this time of year. Suicides do not go up during the holiday season. She says there is usually an uptick in suicides in January, though.MWSnap033

With the pressures of keeping up with family gatherings, social parties, events at church and your children’s school and with trying to fit in gift-buying while balancing year-end work demands, the holiday season is a time when stressors can make mental or emotional health challenges more painful.

For some, according to Purnell, it can be a time of struggling with recent relationship breakups or the absence of a loved one who has passed away. It can also be difficult when TV commercials, shows and movies all highlight happy ending love stories and family unity when so many do not have that in their lives.

Purnell offers advice on how to spot struggles that are more than just stress-related holiday blues and how to help.

Also, this time of year can be particularly hard on children of parents who have separated or divorced. While parents may look at scheduling some time in one home and some time in the other as fair to Mom and Dad, it can have an impact on the kids that parents don’t often see.MWSnap034

In many cases, mix in the common addition of a step parent and step siblings, and conflict, loneliness and depression can become more possible in young people.

Often, they won’t ask for help.

Jane Gavril from the Crider Center explains why the holidays are sometimes harder on children than other times of year and how parents – even if no longer together – can work to make the season as fun and healthy for everyone as possible.

On the web:

Missouri Institute of Mental Health: https://www.mimh.edu/

Crider Center: http://cridercenter.org/

Permanent link to this article: http://missouriviewpoints.com/the-holidays-and-mental-health/