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'There is hope': Health experts offer guidance for those struggling with mental illness during holidays

The revamped suicide prevention hotline is now a three-digit number that people can call or text by dialing 988.

SAN ANTONIO — The holidays can be especially stressful times, whether it’s dealing with relationships or financial pressures. That’s why local mental health experts are reminding everyone that help is available.

“The most important thing is to talk to somebody. You’re not alone and there is hope with whatever you’re going through,” said Brandy Flores, chief development officer with NAMI Greater San Antonio.

The pressures of life may seem overwhelming, amplifying anxiety and depression. 

NAMI Greater San Antonio is a non-profit focused on helping those with mental illness. The organization’s warmline has seen an uptick in calls from people needing assistance, and that’s expected to increase as Christmas approaches. 

“When people call in, you’re not talking to someone who’s just giving advice, you’re talking to somebody’s who’s been there. A lot of people just need that person to talk to, somebody to vent with, somebody to hear them out,” Flores said. 

The Center for Health Care Services operates a 24/7 safe line for seeking addiction assistance and mental health resources. 

Dr. Rene Olvera, CHCS’s chief medical officer, suggests setting realistic expectations overall this holiday season to avoid further mental anguish. 

He noted the holidays open the door to sitting down with family and beginning that road to healing. 

“Certainly if you’re going to do some kind big gathering, it’s certainly okay to ask for help from your fellow family members. It’s totally okay to create realistic budget and try to stick to that so that you don’t create a lot of debt and regret later," said Olvera.

Other ways to manage the holiday blues include getting enough sleep, exercising, avoiding alcohol if feeling down and listening to music. 

The 988 Suicide and Crisis Hotline launched this summer, providing Americans a 24/7 opportunity to speak with someone. 

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