For some people, the holidays are a joyful time, but for others it can be overwhelming. Add to that a mental health issue and it could be a recipe for disaster if you don’t take steps to prepare yourself. In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness every year. So, as you begin making your holiday list, don’t forget to add your mental health to the top of it. In the U.S, 64% of people with mental illness report that the holidays make their symptoms worse due to feelings of loneliness and increased stress. And, in the state of Montana we have the highest rate of suicide in the nation.
According to Mentor Manager, Kerry McKenzie, many of the parents of kids Youth Dynamics serves also struggle with their own mental health issues. In the U.S., 1 in 6 kids ages 6 – 17 struggle with mental illness. To complicate things further, many youth struggling with behavioral health disorders experience increased symptoms over their holiday break due to the loss of structure that school provides. Kerry adds that as caregiver’s stress levels increases, it affects the way they interact with their kids, leading to further increased behaviors in children.
Understanding mental health is the key. Mental Health is your general well-being and state of mind. Something that has to be looked after. Mental Illness is simply something that disrupts your mental state and interrupts how you feel. Oftentimes, the holidays are a trigger. But, it isn’t all doom and gloom. Simply remembering to take care of yourself during the holidays is one of the most important things you can do whether you have been diagnosed with a mental illness or not. Why? Because, if you do not take care of yourself, you won’t have anything left to give to anyone else. Unfortunately, many people learn this the hard way.
As they begin preparing for Thanksgiving, Hanukah, Christmas and a New Year very quickly the stress can add up on both parents and children. It is important to learn the warning signs…Stress may show in your physical health in the form of headaches, stomachaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, a short temper, aching muscles, even a loss of appetite. These changes in behavior can affect not only your family life but also your work performance.
Youth Dynamics Therapist, Beck Jones says, “There are many things that caregivers can do to help reduce behaviors in their kids over the holidays, and thus reduce stress in the home”. Beck’s tips include sticking to a routine, limiting sugar for youth, and practicing grounding techniques. Beck went on to discuss the importance of self-care for parents, adding that parents will better be able to support their kids if they take care of themselves. Learning to take these small steps can add up to a happy holiday!
1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness
1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34
About Youth Dynamics
Youth Dynamics is Montana’s largest provider of mental and behavioral health services for children and families. Since 1981, we have provided evidence-based treatment for kids. Our services include therapy, case management, family education and support, foster and respite care; mentoring, therapeutic youth group homes, substance use treatment, independent living skills, as well as, treatment for youth with highly sexualized behaviors or who have committed sexual offenses. With 31 locations strategically placed around Montana, Youth Dynamics welcomes families going through difficult times.