Mental health professionals see symptoms of mental illness increase during holiday season

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 10:07 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The holidays can be a stressful time, especially for those with mental health needs.

Mental health professionals say they see a 64 percent increase in their services around the holidays.

For many, the holidays are a time for fellowship with family and to remember the core themes of the season - joy, love, and hope.

“When we start to lose hope, it sounds kind of like a touchy-feely word, but it’s actually a really important part of our well-being as humans to believe that we have control over our future and our future can be better than our past. And that’s what hope is,” said Sandy Bromly, the director of the Shelby County Crime Victims and Rape Crisis Center.

But for those with mental illnesses the holidays can be stressful. A time that triggers anxiety and depression

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says 64 percent of people with mental illness report symptoms worsening during the holidays.

This holiday season once again falls in a pandemic, where mental health professionals are seeing more people seeking mental health support.

“We have probably seen a 30 to 40 percent increase,” said Marquiepta Odom, the executive director of the YWCA Greater Memphis.

Odom usually yields calls for domestic violence support, but she said more and more people are calling the organization for mental health referrals.

“If a person thinks they may need mental health assistance, there is nothing wrong talking to a counselor, letting your feelings out, and that way we are not balling those feelings up, and then they come out in anger or in any other ways,” Odom said.

Bromley was part of a mental health roundtable with the City of Memphis and the White House last week.

The report from the meeting shows mental health hotlines are seeing a three-fold increase in callers this year in Memphis. It’s a sign for all of us to check on our loved ones.

“Reach out to your friends and family members,” Bromley said. “We have to start reducing the stigma around getting help. We all need help. We can’t do this alone anymore.”

If you are a victim of a crime you can reach Bromley’s office here. The YWCA’s domestic violence hotline is 901-725-4277.

For mental health support locally, you can call the Memphis Crisis Center at 901-274-7411. You can also call 211.

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