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Pressures of Christmas lead to rise in mental health problems

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The festive period can be difficult for some The season to be jolly? Not for everyone

Mental health conditions can be exacerbated by stress and financial difficulties linked to the Christmas period, according to research by Mind.

The survey of 1100 supporters of the charity found that 36% of people with mental health problems have self-harmed during the holiday season. It also revealed that more than half of those surveyed have considered harming themselves at Christmas, while 45% have considered taking their own life. A further 76% of people said they had problems sleeping at Christmas, and 60% of people reported experiencing panic attacks over the festive period.

‘Coping with a mental health problem can be difficult at any time of year but at Christmas there are special demands that can leave you feeling worse than usual,’ said Stephen Buckley, Head of Information at Mind. ‘Our research shows that people are struggling due to the stress, financial impact and pressure to join in when everyone around you seems to be having fun.’

Reasons people gave for struggling at Christmas were variety. Of those surveyed, 41% said getting into debt, 83% reported feeling lonely, and 81% found Christmas stressful. Around a third of people told Mind that they try to connect with people they have lost touch with at Christmas, while 19% said that they have called a helpline for advice or support.

‘While people can turn to less healthy ways of coping when struggling at Christmas – smoking, drinking too much or eating comfort food – this can also have a serious impact on our health,’ added Mr Buckley. ‘We’re urging people to look out for one another and show that you care. By listening, sympathetically, by being affectionate, appreciative, or simply by spending time with loved ones.’

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