As COVID-19 serves up extra holiday stress, HopeLine offers encouragement, advice

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- There is usually always some stress during the holiday season and this year there could be more because of an unwanted guest -- COVID-19.

The viral infection is separating some families, and celebrations are going to be more intimate.

The altered holiday season comes after months of dealing with isolation, financial worries and health concerns.

Crisis intervention resources are anticipating there could be an uptick in calls this holiday season.

A relatively recent CDC report found that 2 in 5 Americans are struggling with mental or behavioral health issues because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's almost difficult to put into words how challenging it can be for people who are already struggling with mental health challenges or have a diagnosed mental illness," said HopeLine Executive Director Lauren Foster.

The HopeLine has extra staff working as a caution.

Foster said additional volunteers have been trained and are more than willing to help people cope.

"Even if you may physically be alone, you don't have to mentally be alone in that there's people who care. There's people who are ready and able to talk to you," Foster said.

If you will be away from family and friends, mental health professionals said you should try to stay connected and use technology to your advantage.

You could consider setting up a phone or Zoom call to virtually interact with loved ones, even when they are gathered around the table.

Foster said consider asking family and friends how they are dealing with this situation.

"All of those good things are what we do on the lines, but it means a lot more if it's coming from someone who they know and love and they feel that support from," Foster said.

HopeLine is encouraging people who are struggling to reach out, even for just 10 or 15 minutes.

Staffers can be reached 24/7 at (919) 231-4525. You can call or text the number. It's free and confidential.
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