A survey of over 2,000 UK adults by the Mental Health Foundation found that while 42 percent of people are feeling hopeful, happy or excited about the festive season, 27 percent of adults in the South West are feeling anxious or stressed.
It’s a time of year where lots of people can sometimes feel pressure to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas, but the impact of Covid-19 and the shorter, darker days can have an impact on our mood and energy levels. This time of year can highlight feelings of loneliness and isolation, especially as we have all decreased our social contact over the last year due to the pandemic.
Over half of adults in the South West (53 percent) are also worried about a loved one’s mental health this Christmas, including relatives (38 percent), friends (31 percent), a partner (27 percent) or children (28 percent).
Cllr Tim Harman, cabinet member for public health and communities at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “It’s been a difficult year for many of us and we’re all looking forward to the spring and the changes the Covid-19 vaccine will hopefully bring to our lives, but this can feel like a long way away if you or someone you love is struggling right now. It can feel daunting to start a conversation about mental health but just reaching out to your friends and family to ask how they’re feeling can make a big difference.”
Here are just a few tips for supporting someone with their mental health this festive season. You can find more information on supporting others from the Samaritans here:
- Ask how they’re feeling. Be there for them and don’t make assumptions about the way they are feeling or why this might be a difficult time. Letting them know that you are there to hear what they have to say without judgement or pressure to feel a certain way can help them feel accepted and valued.
- Don’t try to ‘fix a problem’ or tell them to cheer up. Even if your intentions are good, trying to convince them that Christmas should be a happy time probably won’t make them feel better. Asking if there is any way you can help or support them is great, but let them decide what this help looks like rather than trying ‘fix’ it yourself.
- Signpost to support. Don’t be afraid to let them know there is free, confidential help available for people to access straight away, without needing a referral, if you think they need more support.
- Look after yourself. It’s ok to confide in friends, family or someone impartial if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. If you’re supporting someone else through a difficult time this could also have an affect on you. Your wellbeing matters too.
Alex Burrage, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Clinical Lead with Let’s Talk, said: “The first step towards getting well is always the hardest. It can be hard to admit you are experiencing problems with your mental health, but if you can open up to someone you trust, you will almost always feel a sense of relief for sharing how you are feeling. The next step is finding help from the most appropriate place and once you are on that route things should carry on improving. There are so many sources of help and support – many of them are online so you won’t even need to leave your home. Please do reach out and accept the help available.”
Free, confidential mental health support available in Gloucestershire:
- Qwell – anonymous online counselling and self-help resources for adults. Visit qwell.io
- Let’s Talk – an NHS service for people experiencing issues like stress, anxiety and depression. Call 0800 073 2200 or visit letstalkglos.nhs.uk
- The Gloucestershire Self Harm Helpline – for young people and adults. Webchat: gloucestershireselfharm.org, call: 0808 816 0606 or text: 07537 410 022.
- Kooth – anonymous online counselling and self-help resources for young people aged 11 to 18. Visit: kooth.com
- TIC+ Chat – anonymous phone or online counselling for young people aged nine to 21. Call 0300 303 8080 or visit ticplus.org.uk. A parent support and advice line is also available online or by calling 0800 6525675.
- If you’re feeling very distressed, you can get help 24 hours a day by calling the Samaritans on 116 123 or texting Shout (for adults) or The Mix (for under 25s) on 85258.
- If you or someone you know needs help in a mental health crisis, you can call the Gloucestershire crisis teams on 0800 169 0398.
For a longer list of mental health services available in the county, visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mental-health-services