64% of those with a mental health concern report increased strain, need for assistance during the holiday season but can’t always access timely care
FLORIDA CITY, Fla., Dec. 21, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — For those facing mental health concerns, crowded shopping centers and public venues, long lines, large credit card bills, strained family interactions, and in many cases, isolation and sadness can exacerbate the feelings and symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and even seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Knowing what to do if you or a loved one is facing a mental health concern or crisis can help to keep everyone healthy and happy this holiday season, says Adil A. Mohammed, M.D., Founder and CEO of Florida-based Harmony United Psychiatric Care (HUPC).
“Feeling extra stress around the holidays is not uncommon,” says Dr. Mohammed, adding that a National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) survey indicated that 64 percent of people with mental health concerns report the worsening of their conditions during the holidays. “But just because it’s common doesn’t mean you should brush away the often-overwhelming feelings that come with that stress. Trying to ignore those feelings can lead to bigger problems.”
Since avoiding the holidays and the stress that comes with them is not possible for most people, HUPC has put together a list of actions to take if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the holidays. “The first and most important thing to do is to have a plan before you’re confronted with the activities or experiences that cause added stress,” says Dr. Mohammed. “This plan might include calling a friend or counselor, watching funny videos like cat videos on tv or social media, or going out and getting some fresh air or exercising. It’s also important to pay attention to your mind, feelings, and body. Eating well, avoiding alcohol and drugs, getting enough rest, and acknowledging and dealing with your feelings as soon as they start to creep up on you can make a big difference in the outcome.”
It’s also important, says Dr. Mohammed, to know when to seek help, and not to wait because in some situations, waiting to get help can lead to a mental health crisis.
The Florida Department of Health has regularly reported high suicide rates in the months surrounding the holiday season. In the 2022/2023 holiday season, there were 1,162 suicides reported statewide between October 2022 and January 2023. While the 2023/2024 holiday season has seen much lower rates, Floridians must know what to do if they or someone they love needs help, both before a crisis, and when one occurs.
Launched in July 2022, the 988-suicide crisis line can offer a listening ear and help connect people experiencing a mental health concern or crisis to local mental health centers and emergency health centers. But in Florida, around 31 percent of calls to 988 are being routed to national call centers, which can make it more difficult to get access to local mental health assistance. Knowing where your local mental health clinics are located can make a world of difference, says Dr. Mohammed.
HUPC has eleven compassionate mental healthcare clinics in Florida— Altamonte Springs, Bradenton, Clearwater, Crystal River, Gainesville, Lady Lake, Lutz, Ocala, Tampa, and Winter Garden— providing same-day or next day, in-clinic and telehealth appointments Monday through Sunday 7:15 am to 6:45 pm with 24/7 on-call service to address urgent client needs. Two additional locations will open in early January 2024 in Kissimmee and Orlando.
“Accessible mental healthcare is critical at all times of the year, but during times when stress is elevated, it becomes even more important to have access to care, and importantly, to know that when you reach out for help, someone who cares about you is going to be on the other end of that conversation,” says Dr. Mohammed. “Harmony is here to help our neighbors and community through the stress of the holiday season and every day after that. But whether they come to us or another clinic, call the crisis hotline, phone a family member, or phone a friend, we want the community to know that there are options for getting help when you need it and that it’s never too early to ask for that help.”
About Harmony United Psychiatric Care
Harmony United Psychiatric Care provides comprehensive outpatient mental health and psychiatry services in Florida through in-person visits and virtually through our secure online telehealth platform. For more information, visit hupcfl.com.
SOURCE Harmony United Psychiatric Care