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Coping with Holiday Blues ... and Mental Health Cuts

December 22, 2008

Columbus, OH - It's easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy, but experts say it's critical to take the time to care for your mental health. Many people enjoy the parties and family gatherings, but for others the demands of the season can cause major depression.

Dr. Marion Sherman with the Ohio Department of Mental Health says it is a lot to take on.

"Around the holidays there is definitely more stress, there are more self-imposed pressures, more obligations - trying to put more to-do's in a day than a day can hold.”

The co-chair of Ohio Consumers for Health Coverage, Cathy Levine, says the dangers of holiday depression underscore the importance of having access to mental health services for all Ohioans year round, and she hopes it gets the attention it deserves as the nation tackles the health care situation.

"You can't be healthy if you are suffering from serious depression. Therefore, mental health coverage has to be a critical part of health care reform.”

In the latest round of budget cuts announced by Governor Ted Strickland, the Ohio Department of Mental Health must shave $30 million in spending. It's a move Levine calls disappointing.

"Cutting mental health services is completely the wrong direction to go for the people of Ohio, many of whom need mental health services to be productive, healthy members of society.”

Dr. Sherman says you can minimize mental anguish by setting reasonable expectations and taking care of yourself; she suggests getting enough sleep and exercise. If you start to feel sad or hopeless for a prolonged period, she says, it's a good idea to find a professional to talk to.

Mary Kuhlman/Steve Powers, Public News Service - OH