Behavioral health and the holidays


Young mother holding baby and looking overwhelmed in the kitchen

The holiday season can be full of fun things to do. However, many people also struggle with mental health or substance use during this time.

It can be hard to face the holidays, especially if you have had a recent loss or major life stressor.  Other people might:

  • Feel lonely.
  • Get stressed around certain family members.
  • Feel overwhelmed with the things they need to get done.

If any of these situations sound like you, you are not alone. Are you feeling sad, anxious, depressed or struggling with substance use? This could be a good time to start getting behavioral health care.

If you are an Alliance member, there are services you can get for mental health and substance use.

What can I get support for?

Here are some behavioral health concerns you can get help with:

  • Anger.
  • Anxiety.
  • Depression.
  • Developmental issues.
  • Difficulty coping with life changes, frustration and stress.
  • Drug or alcohol use.
  • Exercise and eating.
  • Grief and loss.
  • Stress.
  • Trauma.

If you or a family member is struggling or in crisis, call or text 988. For more information on this service, visit the website for 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

If you are having a health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Mental health and how to get help

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that over one in five American adults live with a mental illness. According to a 2014 study, 64% of people with mental illness say that the holidays make their conditions worse.

Don’t wait to get help. Medi-Cal members can get mental health care through our partner, Carelon Behavioral Health. There are many services that Carelon can help you get. This includes individual, family or group therapy. There are services for children, teens and adults.

There are many services that Carelon can help you get. This includes individual, family or group therapy. There are services for children, teens and adults.

Call Carelon at 855-765-9700 (TTY: Dial 711). You can call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you call, Carelon can help you:

  • Understand your mental health benefits.
  • Find mental health providers in your area.
  • Make an appointment.

Older man sits at dining table talking on cell phone

Substance use and how to get help

For substance use services, you can contact your county’s behavioral health department directly:

County 24-hour Phone Number Main Address
Merced 888-334-0163 301 E. 13th St.
Merced, CA 95340
Monterey 888-258-6029 1200 Aguajito Road
Monterey, California, 93940
Santa Cruz 800-952-2335 1400 Emeline Avenue, Bldg. K.
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Learn more about services on our behavioral health page.


These articles have tips for managing your holiday stress.

This holiday season, you may be doing a lot of things for other people. Don’t forget to take care of yourself! It is okay to ask for help.

From all of us at the Alliance, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!


Did you find this information helpful?

About the contributor:

Maureen Wolff Stiles

Maureen Wolff Stiles

Maureen Wolff Stiles works as Digital Communications Content Specialist for the Communications Department at Central California Alliance for Health (the Alliance). She works with a variety of the health plan’s experts to strategically tailor informative, engaging materials for members, providers and the communities the Alliance serves. Maureen has been with the Alliance since 2021. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.

Written in collaboration with subject matter expert: Shaina Zurlin, LCSW, PsyD, Behavioral Health Director