Supporting Your Mental Health During the Holiday Season

By: Tanner Bommersbach, M.D., M.P.H., Policy Fellow, Center for Mental Health Services

In the 2003 holiday movie classic, “Elf,” the main character, Buddy, shares a particular fondness for the holiday season, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!” No matter what traditions you celebrate this winter, not everyone shares Buddy’s enthusiasm for this season. While the holidays can be a time of celebration and joy for many, it also can be a period of stress, sadness, and loneliness for others—and sometimes can be particularly difficult for people living with mental health and substance use conditions.

 A survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 64 percent of individuals living with a mental illness reported that their conditions worsened around the holidays. Whether due to separation from loved ones, personal grief, the pressures of gift-giving, economic hardship, challenging interactions with family members, or shorter days, this time of year can bring unique behavioral health challenges.

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