Tis the Season to Be Jolly? National Survey Finds Nearly Half of Americans Experience Seasonal Mental Health Issues

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Sadness, depression and anxiety common during the festive season,
according to University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences survey

PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Roughly two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. adults say mental health is a
very or extremely serious issue, and two-thirds (67 percent) of
Americans cited personal experience dealing with mental health issues,
according to a recent survey from University of Phoenix® College of
Social Sciences among 1,014 U.S. adults aged 18 or older. The survey,
which examined the prevalence of mental health issues including seasonal
sadness and depression, also found that nearly half (45 percent) of U.S.
adults say they have experienced mental health issues such as sadness or
depression around the fall and winter festive season.

“An overwhelming majority of Americans recognize that mental health is a
serious issue and many have personal experiences with mental health
issues, and those feelings often intensify during the festive time of
year,” said Tammy Woody, Ed.D., dean of faculty for University of
Phoenix College of Social Sciences. “Those prone to mental health issues
such as depression or anxiety can be more vulnerable to seasonal
triggers such as the financial and emotional stress that can accompany
the festive time of year, which makes awareness and access to treatment
critically important from November through January.”

Roughly 40 percent of those who have had these feelings cited personal
grief (44 percent), loneliness (43 percent) or financial strain (38
percent) as the challenges that led to feelings of seasonal depression.
And, when asked about their family and friends, two-in-five (41 percent)
U.S. adults also say they’ve observed those closest to them experiencing
sadness or depression, with 17 percent saying these feelings are
strongest in December.

Family can be friend or foe

Spending time with loved ones can be therapeutic and nearly half of U.S.
adults (47 percent) cite spending time with family and friends as a way
to deal with sadness during the season. However, family and friends can
also trigger feelings of sadness. Roughly a quarter each of U.S. adults
say family (22 percent) or relationships (24 percent) are the issues for
which they’d seek counseling.

“For many, having close friends or family is a key aspect of finding
peace and happiness, but for others relationships can create stress,”
continued Dr. Woody. “For those individuals, the expectations,
excitement and joy during the festive season can add pressure and
anxiety that can be compounded by feelings of loneliness, isolation, or
missing loved ones.”

Keeping the holiday season festive

As the festive season approaches, Woody offers a few simple tips to help
practice self-care to successfully surmount feeling of stress, sadness
or depression during the season:

1. Take Inventory. Acknowledge your feelings and realize
it’s okay to express them. The holiday season doesn’t automatically do
away with feelings of sadness. That’s why it is important to devote
quality time for yourself to step back and take stock of how you feel.

2. Stay Active. Keep your mind and body moving. Physical
activity in any form can improve your sense of well-being and overall
health. Activities like painting, sculpting, drawing, and photography
are relaxing and rewarding hobbies that stimulate your mind and body.

3. Try Something New. The holidays can be a reminder of
painful memories of our past. While it’s important to reflect, celebrate
today by incorporating a new tradition in your holiday plans this season.

4. Share and Take Care. It’s okay to delegate and ask for
help. This can be a great way to reduce stress surrounding holiday
planning and tasks.

5. Reach Out. Mental health professionals are trained to
provide help for those in need. Speak up and don’t try to handle your
challenges alone. It’s also equally as important to reach out to others
who may be in need.

Reluctance to seek treatment and barriers to counseling remain

While almost half of U.S. adults (48 percent) say they would be likely
to seek counseling for their friends and family around the festive time
of year, only two-in-five (40 percent) would be likely to seek out
counseling for themselves. Of the U.S. adults who have sought
counseling, 42 percent have experienced barriers or obstacles to care.

Top barriers according to U.S. Adults:

  • Financial limitations (68 percent)
  • Uncertainty regarding effectiveness of counseling (32 percent)
  • Access to health insurance coverage (32 percent)
  • Social stigma (31 percent)
  • Reluctance to face problems (29 percent)

“Recognizing financial limitations are barriers to counseling, the
University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences runs counseling skills
centers in markets across the country, which serve as educational
training facilities that provide free mental health services to those
seeking affordable care in the community,” said Constance St. Germain,
Ed.D., executive dean for University of Phoenix College of Social
Sciences. “The public also has an opportunity to help by educating
themselves on the resources available in their community and coaching
their loved ones who might need professional support to overcome any
barriers to care and get the resources they need to manage their mental
health and enjoy this celebratory season.”

Methodology

The 2015 survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris
Poll on behalf of University of Phoenix September 28-October 8, 2015,
among 1,014 U.S. adults ages 18 and older. For complete survey
methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Jennifer.Marshall@apollo.edu.

About University of Phoenix® College of Social Sciences

University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences offers programs in
human services, psychology and counseling. The college’s curriculum
seeks to empower individuals who wish to enhance their skills for career
entry or advancement in the helping professions. Curriculum is regularly
updated to meet accreditation and/or national and state professional
standards. University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences faculty
members are experienced professionals, holding advanced degrees. Many
sit on state licensure and accreditation boards as well as professional
committees. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu/socialsciences.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is constantly innovating to help working adults
move efficiently from education to careers in a rapidly changing world.
Flexible schedules, relevant and engaging courses, and interactive
learning can help students more effectively pursue career and personal
aspirations while balancing their busy lives. As a subsidiary of Apollo
Education Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL),
University of Phoenix serves a diverse student population, offering
associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs from
campuses and learning centers across the U.S. as well as online
throughout the world. For more information, visit www.phoenix.edu.

Contacts

University of Phoenix
Jennifer Marshall, 847-476-2734
jennifer.marshall@apollo.edu