With all of the shopping, traveling, and family gatherings, the holiday season isn’t everyone’s favorite time of year.
If you’re looking for mental health services to help you deal with holiday stress, you may have to wait a while, according to experts.
Larry Beer, the founder and director of Child and Family Psychological Services in Kalamazoo said that normally, demand for mental health services increases in mid-January, but that demand is currently at an all-time high.
“This year, there is a higher demand than usual during the holiday season,” Beer said. “I believe it is the result of a combination of stressors. You are aware of COVID on top of the usual holiday stressors, political tensions, and existing social justice issues.”
He stated that many people are concerned about contracting COVID-19 during the current outbreak or having difficult conversations with family members who hold opposing viewpoints.
Beer recommends reaching out to family members ahead of time to ensure that everyone is on the same page about any COVID-19 boundaries at gatherings or topics that are off-limits at the dinner table.
Therapist schedules are packed up, waiting times are usually long, and Beer said they sometimes have to refer patients to another therapist.
According to Beer, there is a shortage of psychiatrists in West Michigan, particularly those who work with children.
According to The New York Times, nearly one-third of clinicians surveyed in the United States said it could take at least three months to get an appointment or that they have no room for new patients whatsoever.
In the meantime, if you’re looking for services but can’t get an in-person appointment, Beer advised people to use virtual options, online mental health platforms, and apps.
He urged people to get enough sleep, eat healthily, and exercise to reduce stress during the holidays and beyond.