The most stressful time of the year doesn’t have to be, mental health advocate says

SAN ANTONIO – For some battling mental illness, the holiday season can be the most difficult time of the year, as high expectations, loneliness, stress, and anxiety could all lead to a mental health breakdown.

Sergio Salinas gets a lot of help from his family to manage his mental illness, be independent and live a happy life. He’s looking forward to family time during the holidays but knows not everyone is as lucky.

“A lot of people don’t have their support system in their family, and I’m sure it’s extremely, extremely tough,” Salinas said.

He’s urging those struggling to keep the lines of communication open with friends and family to take a step back if things get overwhelming and reach out for help.

Maria Hoenigman, director of outreach and support for the National Alliance for Mental Illness San Antonio, said any signs of depression or anxiety that last longer than two weeks can become a problem.

“Isolating yourself a lot, loss of appetite, like not wanting to be around others, kind of everything seems like a worst-case scenario” are negative signs, Hoenigman said.

She urges friends and family to check in with the loved ones who struggle with mental illness.

Hoenigman said support groups are not taking a break during the holiday because this time is crucial for many of them.

For more information on how to get help, visit the NAMI website. You can also call 988, the Suicide and Crisis Hotline, for immediate help.

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