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'Holidays can be difficult': Central Texas mental health experts offer advice

A CDC study looked at the mental health of 800,000 Americans, starting in the summer of 2020 through earlier this year. The study found nearly 2 in 5 adults – about 42% -- had symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Posted at 12:43 PM, Dec 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-01 13:46:06-05

CENTRAL TEXAS — Normally the holidays are the happiest times of the year - but they can also be the toughest times for those who've lost loved ones.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jaja Chen said she is seeing a growing number of people asking for help in McLennan County.

“The holidays can be a difficult time of year because it brings up a lot of loss, even traumatic experiences," Chen said.

"Even difficult memories connected to loved ones - are people there longing to be with,”

Canyon Creek Behavioral Hospital Chief Executive Officer Jenn Card said they see the same thing every year in Bell County.

“We have outpatients, which are people that come during the day and return them home," Card said.

"We also have an inpatient hospitalization with a common stay here for a period of time."

According to Chen, many people who experience grief show several symptoms.

“Difficulty sleeping, nightmares... Just a lot of flashbacks - Difficult memories as you’re going about trips trying to navigate the day”

That's why Card said it is important to reach out and support people struggling with loss.

“Be there when they need us and allow people to talk about what they need," Card said.

"Also ask people what they need - Sometimes people just need to be able to say ‘Hey I just need to get out the house, I just need to get a meal."

Experts say it is tough getting through the first year of holidays, birthdays and anniversaries without loved ones - but it is also tough on those going through this the second year as well.

It's reported that 38% of people have heightened stress levels during the holiday season, according to a study by The American Psychological Association.

Here are some mental health resources in our community:

Canyon Creek Behavioral Health
1201 Canyon Creek Drive
Temple, TX 76502


Cedar Crest Hospital & Residential Treatment Center
3500 Interstate 35 Frontage Rd,
Belton, TX 76513

(844) 624-5279

Metroplex Hospital Pavillion
2201 South Clear Creek Road, Killeen, TX 76549

(Killeen) Mental Health: 254-628-1000
Main Ph.: 254-688-1000

Central Counties Services
304 South 22nd Street Temple, TX 76501
Various locations in Bell County.

Crisis Hotline: 24/7, 1-800-888-4036
Non-crisis toll-free: 844-815-6221
Office: 254-298-7000

Families in Crisis (Bell County area, including Ft. Hood)
1305 E Rancier Ave, Killeen, TX 76541

254-634-1184 or 254-773-7765

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255 to talk to a trained listener.

Crisis Text Line
Text MHA 741-741

Crisis Text Line provides free, confidential text message support for individuals experiencing emotional distress or crises.

It is available 24/7.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

Call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)