Dealing with mental health challenges around the holidays

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 9:13 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - As the pandemic continues to take its toll for another holiday season, time spent with family and friends can be difficult. Especially for those dealing with mental health challenges.

The holidays can be overwhelming on top of the stressful events we’ve already encountered throughout the year.

Malissa Galliher, a clinical director with JBS Mental Health, wants us all to extend grace to ourselves and our families.

From planning family events, cooking, traveling, and shopping, it is a lot. Especially with dealing with another round of the pandemic for the second year in a row.

“Now with COVID,” says Galliher, “we have the added stress of how do we navigate staying safe for ourselves. How do we navigate keeping those around safe? Our loved ones. And you have individuals who are divided. Some individuals don’t really see the necessity of taking precautions.”

Galliher says it’s also important to consider children and their feelings. For some of them it will be the first time they’ve been around family members in more than a year.

“They want to come and hug you and give you kiss,” says Galliher. “The kids may not have seen them in a year or two years. They may not know who they are. They have all these people coming up and hugging on them and kissing them. Invading their space and not asking for permission. So often times we take for granted that children they need space just adults need space.”

Galliher recommends avoiding controversial topics that could cause problems for someone with a mental illness.

“Know what triggers you,” said Galliher. “Be willing to know what triggers other people. If you know that you have differing views on politics or religion, avoid those topics.”

Galliher also shares if family members who have mental health issues come to visit and they are only able to stay for a couple of hours, be grateful. Don’t make them feel bad for having to leave. Respect their decision and show gratitude for the time you were able to spend with them.

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