Whilst the run up to Christmas and the festive period itself is an exciting, joyous time for many, for some it can be an incredibly difficult time of year.
Mental health issues at Christmas affect more of us than you might think. A survey from YouGov found that a quarter of people say that Christmas makes their mental health worse, while a survey from the Mental Health Foundation found that 54% of people were worried about the mental health of someone they know at Christmas.
It's a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us and can affect our mental health in lots of different ways.
New Year can also be a hard time. It can make us look back at difficult memories or worry about the coming year. We might also reflect on our lives, and regret things we haven't achieved.
I am keen to ensure that people reading this who may be struggling to deal with the festive season, know that there is support available.
The Samaritans are one of a number of charities and organisations that do an amazing job of supporting people in distress.
They have a total of 837 volunteers in Wales. This includes: 705 listening volunteers and 132 support volunteers, who work in areas such as fundraising, publicity and community outreach.
They provide support day and night, and in 2022, they answered a call for help every four minutes in Wales. Even through pandemic restrictions, they selflessly continued to be there for their communities and for anyone struggling to cope. Each of the teams at their ten locations in Wales demonstrated a brilliant and unique connection with their local area. Their dedication is crucial in Samaritans achieving its vision – that fewer people die by suicide.
The top 5 reasons for calling Samaritans were: • Mental health/illness • Family • Isolation/loneliness • Relationship problems • Physical health/ illness
In 2022, they launched ‘Finding Your Way’, a new resource for anyone struggling to cope across Wales.
It’s for people of any age or circumstance who have noticed a dip in their wellbeing or feelings of loneliness, through to people who are self-harming or feeling suicidal.
The resource is already being used far and wide across Wales, including in A&Es, foodbanks, job centres and schools. The resource includes self-harm and suicide safety plans, which can be lifesaving tools for those struggling to cope. It’s focused on prevention and aims to help people identify when they’re struggling to cope early on, helping to stop them from reaching crisis point.
Mental health charity MIND Cymru also have many resources to help people through difficult times.
This year, due to the cost of living crisis, money worries are more prevalent.
As MIND state: “Money worries can have a big impact on mental health. They might make us feel worried, embarrassed or angry. And they can affect our self-esteem. Try not to blame yourself for your situation or how you're feeling about it.”
On their website MIND provide detailed advice on coping with money worries, as well tips on coping with Christmas generally. Visit www.mind.org.uk
Alternatively, I would encourage those that are struggling to:
- Call Samaritans on 116 123 (freephone). Their English language line is always open. They have a Welsh language line too, 0808 164 0123 which is open daily from 7pm to 11pm.
- Text SHOUT to 85258. This is a free 24/7 crisis text service run by Shout.
- Visit MIND’s useful contacts page for a list of organisations who can support your mental health or help with practical problems.