It’s not the most wonderful time of the year for many; resources available to help people cope | AspenTimes.com
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It’s not the most wonderful time of the year for many; resources available to help people cope

If you're struggling with your mental health during the holidays, you are not alone.

The "holiday blues" are a very real problem, mental health authories say. If you're struggling with your mental health, they urge you reach out for help.
Getty Images/ Ilona Titova / EyeEm

For some, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Christmas lights glowing, snow falling, and the excitement of the new year right around the corner can bring about a child-like exuberance, Mariah Carey-level enthusiasm. It’s easy to imagine this is the way you should feel.

But for many, the holidays are daunting, intensifying mental illness symptoms and feelings of loneliness.

The harsh reality is that this time of year places more stress on many people, stress that can take a huge toll on one’s physical and mental health. For example, you may have heard that more people die from heart attacks between Christmas and New Year’s than any other time of the year. This stat is not only emblematic of the ways the holidays can bring intensify adverse emotional experiences, but it also showcases how entangled mental and physical health truly are.



“During the holidays, there’s kind of like a pressure cooker for people who’ve already been dealing with issues, whether it could be substance abuse or isolation, or anything of that nature, and that gets intensified during the holidays,” said Miller Ford, Aspen comedian, writer and mental health advocate.

This season is riddled with nostalgia for simpler times, which can bring about both good and bad memories — both can leave you feeling more depressed. Perhaps you’re away from the place you call home. Perhaps the person in your life that feels like home is no longer with you.




According to Jarid Rollins, clinical social worker at Mid Valley Family Practice, some of us in the valley may experience higher levels of cognitive dissonance, which is a state of being in which one is in a limbo between two or more modes of thought, causing emotional distress.

For example, you may feel symptoms of depression but discredit the reality of those symptoms because you “should be thankful” that you’re in such a beautiful place.

“Something that gets talked about in our valley quite a bit is the idea of the ‘should’ statements,” said Rollins. “I should be feeling happier because I live in this beautiful place, Aspen, Colorado. I should be feeling happy because it’s Christmas. I should be feeling happy because everyone is going to parties and things like that.

“Then when we don’t feel those things, because for whatever reason, we’re overworked or our family members are far away, then that those ‘should’ statements start to compound our negative feelings, or sadness, or our grief.”

When we discredit our emotional state, it can distort our sense of reality and what we consider to be our values. In addition, when one is suffering from mental health issues, they may isolate themselves from others, which can lead to worsening symptoms.

If you’re struggling with your mental health, at any time, the advice is to tell someone: Reach out to licensed professionals and ask for help, including, yes, your general practitioner! Voicing your struggles can change your life for the better, mental health officials say.

Mental Health Resources:

1.) Aspen Strong

Aspen Strong can help subsidize the cost of mental health services, through limited sponsorship funding, according to their website.

For immediate crisis assistance, call  1-844-493-8255 or Text TALK to 741741.

Visit their website at aspen strong.org.

2.) Ben’s Friends

Ben’s Friends is a support group dedicated to helping those in the hospitality and service industry overcome their substance addictions. They meet once a week in Aspen on Mondays at 10 a.m. In addition, you can attend virtual support group meetings online through their website bensfriendshope.com.

To get more information on Ben’s Friends, reach out to Miller Ford by emailing eliphford81@gmail.com.

3.) Aspen Hope Center

Aspen Hope Center offers individual counseling, an intensive stabilization program, a school-based mental health program, a mobile crisis program, and more.

You can find more information on by viewing their website at aspenhopecenter.org. Call Aspen Hope Center at (970) 925-5858.

4.) Colorado AA District 14

Alcoholics Anonymous District 14 serves Aspen, Woody Creek, Snowmass, Basalt, El Jebel, Carbondale, Redstone, Marble, Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Rifle, Parachute, Silt, Eagle, Vail, Minturn, Avon, Beaver Creek, and Edwards.

For more information, visit coaadistrict14.org.

5.) A Way Out

A Way Out is a non-profit organization serving Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties and offering “free Substance Use Disorder/Mental Health Assessments, Addiction Counseling, Streamlined Navigation & Referral to a Primary Addiction Treatment Program, a Year of Case-Managed Aftercare, and Transitional Housing,” according to their website.

You can reach out to this organization by emailing ecky@awayout.org. Visit their website at awayout.org.

5.) Mid Valley Family Practice

Mid Valley Family Practice offers behavioral health services, including mental health and substance abuse treatments.

For more information, visit their website at midvalleyfamilypractice.org/behavioral-health-services/

6.) National and State Hotlines

Dial 988 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Colorado Crisis Services: (970) 494-4200

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