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Mental Health During the Holidays

Now that we’re in the thick of the holiday season, it’s important to remember that the “most wonderful time of the year” can be difficult for some, especially in 2020.

“Whether it’s trying to get all the presents bought for everybody, having family over, or just maybe some people dealing with loss, maybe it’s their first holidays without that loved one… whatever it might be, the holidays can be a time of increased stress,” said Dr. Kelly Ryan, director of social services and doctoral training at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

Mental Health Deaths Increased

DuPage County Coroner Dr. Richard Jorgensen reported that the suicide rate is up almost 23 percent this year. There were 44 deaths by suicide from January to June of 2019 and 54 in that same period in 2020. Overdoses have increased even more, going from 46 to 70. Traditionally, those numbers increase around the holidays.

“The ages on them are pretty similar to what we’ve had in the past but slightly skewing a little bit more toward an elderly population than it was before,” Dr. Jorgensen said.

Mental Health Checkups

With that in mind, it’s important to do a mental health check up on both yourself and any loved ones who might be struggling.

“We know people who are depressed, we know people that are struggling,” said Dr. Jorgensen. “And we need to reach out to those people and try to help them. Whether it’s to give them a call or that type of thing. So I think that is something that we can help change.”

Plan Ahead to Help Cope

Dr. Ryan also recommended getting creative to safely enjoy the holidays.

“I think the holidays are a time when we love to honor those traditions that we’ve done in years past and 2020 is really presenting challenges to that. So I recommend you be creative, use Zoom,” she said. “I’ve heard a lot of people say ‘I love to bake cookies with my family – my extended family gets together, we all bake cookies together.’ Well, have a zoom party and do it individually at each of your houses”

Dr. Ryan recommended planning ahead for things you might struggle with. And if you or a loved one need help, places like Linden Oaks are open 24/7 to provide it. You can call them at 630-305-5027.

Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.


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