The holiday season evokes memories of food, family, and fun – but not for everyone. Christmastime canHomeless 1 be a difficult time of year for families struggling to make ends meet. A down economy, difficulty securing employment, and rising costs may leave some fighting to provide even basic needs for their children including food and shelter, let alone holiday extras.

While we do think of children during the holidays, images of homeless children are not one of the first things that come to mind. However, according to an article, there are 1.6 million children who have no shelter for at least a portion of each year. Financial issues amongst the parents are a contributing factor, but so is mental illness.

A parent suffering from mental illness may have trouble holding down a job or making ends meet. Financial pressures add an extra layer of stress, and, many parents may not seek the help they need because they either don’t know they are battling a mental illness or they believe they can’t afford treatment.

Statistics show that nearly half of all homeless people have some form of mental health problem, a figure that considerably outweighs that of the normal population. Since homelessness can be very stressful, it is difficult to tell whether stress triggers bring on mental illness or if mental illness contributed to the circumstances. Regardless, the fact remains that the upset of being homeless takes a mental toll on children as well as parents.

Issues associated with being homeless include heightened anxiety from not having proper shelter or food as well as the dangers of residing on the streets. Children forced to cope in these situations can develop post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, problems sleeping, and other mental health disorders. Some parents under this type of pressure may seek short-term escape in drugs or alcohol, which serves to perpetuate the problem.

Family Guidance Center can help families address the symptoms of mental illness from a whole-person perspective, as well as help refer families to local support resources. By providing mental health support and addiction recovery programs, Family Guidance Center helps families plan next steps for a return to quality of life. Call today to find out more.