Do they know it's Christmas?

There's a quote from one of my favorite TV shows, "One Tree Hill," that has stuck with me from the moment I first heard it: "Six billion people in the world. Six billion souls. And sometimes, all you need is one."

I think this quote rings true always, but especially in the world we live in today - and especially during the holiday season.

For what has been branded as "the most wonderful time of the year" is often anything but for those who struggle with mental illness.

A study done by the National Alliance on Mental Illness in 2014 found that 64 percent of people with mental illness report that holidays make their conditions worse. A 2021 survey found that three in five Americans feel their mental health is negatively affected by the holidays, a trend that is increasing through the years.

For those already struggling, the holidays can be lonely or stressful, and it's only heightened by the constant reminder that this should be a happy time for them.

Poor mental health, although once considered taboo, has now been recognized as a serious medical condition. The National Institute of Mental Health estimated that in 2021, more than one in five U.S. adults lived with a mental illness. At the time this research was conducted, that consisted of 57.8 million people.

Almost 58 million people who are silently suffering, who need a helping hand or a friendly face. Fifty-eight million people who need to be reminded that it's Christmastime. But they are not the only ones.

It's a tale as old as time. We all get lost in the excitement of the season - the joy, the rest, the luxury of nice meals, holiday parties and fancy presents underneath the tree. We need this excitement, and, frankly, we deserve it.

But all of that won't help us in the long run, and the true message of the holiday season is found deep down where we all know it lies - with God. It's about salvation. Hope. It is about Jesus coming to Earth to save us all.

We do all need to be saved - by a smile, a laugh, a song or a friend. And it is those who are struggling - mental health or otherwise - who need it most.

It is our job to care for one another, to act out of love, to put others ahead of ourselves, whether it's a family member, our closest friend or a stranger.

During this holiday season, remember to be kind, to treat everyone you cross paths with as a friend and with respect. You never know who needs your kindness, who needs your hope.

There are now 8 billion people in the world, 8 billion souls. And sometimes, all you need is one. The holidays are a reminder to us to be that one person to someone who needs it most.

- Katie Hughes of Hinsdale is a senior at the University of Georgia. Readers can email her at [email protected].