HARRISBURG Pa., (WHTM) — The holidays won’t be the same for many Midstate families as the pandemic continues. This is why medical professionals want folks to take care of their mental health needs.

Mental health experts say it’s vital to assess your needs ahead of time especially for events like the holidays, which can cause major stress and anxiety.

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“Mental health matters of course, but of course it’s important to take care of yourself during the holidays,” Psychologist Dr. Melissa Brown with UPMC said.

Dr. Brown says there are many factors that can cause stress during the holidays this includes traveling, buying gifts, to even college students who will have to their way back home.

“This time of year brings on added stress it adds to disruption to our sleep-wake cycle with the change in seasons, the colder weather getting dark earlier,” Dr. Brown said.

Dr. Brown says as people get ready for the holidays, it is important to prioritize their needs. A helpful tool would be to make a game plan before any major event and whenever possible, surround yourself with a supportive circle.

“Again, that will allow you to decompress what your frustrations are, have someone validate what you are feeling or experiencing, and again just provide some support for you,” Dr. Brown said.

Health experts say when you are able to properly prepare for the holidays this can help reduce anxiety and focus on spending time with loved ones.

“And if you’re not dealing with how you’re not functioning you’re not going to be adequately prepared to deal with all of that stress which can create so many impacts in your life,” Dr. Brown said.

For those who need assistance with mental help, resources are available. The information below is according to the Pennslyvania Department of Education:

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline (1-800-662-4357) also offers free, confidential, 24/7 national treatment referral and information for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

The Trevor Project  (1-866-488-7386) is a nationwide, confidential, 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis intervention lifeline for LGBTQIA youth aged 25 and younger.

The Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) is a nationwide, confidential crisis intervention hotline ran by the Trans community assisting Trans people through emotional and financial support.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs please visit the Department of Education’s website or follow PDE on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.