911 prepares for holiday stress

By Paige Nash

The most wonderful time of the year? 

Webster Parish 911 Director Angie Chapman is preparing for an uptick in calls with the upcoming holiday season.  

“This time of the year, mental health is a big issue. We will see an increase in calls of service for EMS and law enforcement because it’s the holidays. Sometimes people have a great time, but for the elderly and people who suffer with mental health it’s a big issue,” said Chapman.  

Looking at last year’s numbers, 911 processed 2,120 calls for services involving mental health challenges with numbers peaking in the second and fourth quarters. The numbers in the fourth quarter doubled the calls received in the first quarter.  

“We generally see a spike in the summer months and again during the holiday season at the end of the year. 2022 statistics are following the same pattern in that we have processed a total of 1,762 calls of this nature with the same fluctuations,” she said. 

The current mental health crisis crosses people of all age groups, geographical regions, ethnic groups, religious backgrounds, and socioeconomic status for differentiating reasons. 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 64 percent of people with mental health issues say that the holiday season makes their condition worse.  

NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth said, “For many people the holiday season is not always the most wonderful time of the year. For individuals and families coping with mental health challenges, the holiday season can be a lonely or stressful time, filled with anxiety and/or depression.” 

Everyone can play a role in raising awareness and maintaining good mental health for yourself and those around you who may be struggling.  

988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline provides tons of helpful information on their website including a list of possible risk factors and warning signs loved ones can look for to determine if someone they know may be struggling with mental illness. 

“I believe the more we educate ourselves about mental health issues, the better equipped we become in recognizing when someone is struggling,” said Chapman. “I think it’s very important to sincerely check in with people. So, I encourage you to check on your neighbors, check on your shut ins, check on people who you know don’t have a lot of family this time of year because we will see an increase in those types of calls for 911.” 

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