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New research¹ from Mind has found that many people feel unable to cope at Christmas, particularly people currently experiencing a mental health problem. Key findings of the research include:
Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, has today revealed that one in ten people feel unable to cope at Christmas (11%). The research also found that one in six people feel lonelier at Christmas than any other time of the year (17%), with almost the same number feeling ‘alone in a crowd’ even if they have people around them (16%). Part of the problem appears to be overly high expectations, with more than a quarter of people feeling the pressure to have the ‘perfect Christmas’ (28%).
Although Christmas is challenging for many people, Mind’s research found that the festive period is significantly more difficult for people currently experiencing mental health problems. The number of people with mental health problems who feel unable to cope at Christmas is almost triple that of the wider population (31% vs 11%) and those feeling the pressure of the ‘perfect Christmas’ significantly higher than the population average (44% vs 28%). While one in six people feel lonelier at Christmas than any other time of the year (17%), this is more than double for those with a mental health problem (39%). The research also found that people with mental health problems are twice as likely as the national average to compare their Christmas to other people’s on social media, (19% vs 10%).
The impact of the pressures caused by Christmas is shocking, with one in twenty people considering taking their own life directly because of the festive period (5%), rising to more than one in five of those with mental health problems (22%).
Although it is clear that many need extra support at Christmas, not everyone feels they have someone to confide in for emotional support. Half of people with a mental health problem did not feel they had someone to confide in over the festive period if they needed to (58%). In addition to this, over one in ten people with a mental health problem don’t know where to get professional support over the festive period if they needed it (13%).
Mind is urging people to donate to their Christmas Appeal, so they can be there for everyone who needs them this Christmas. Visit mind.org.uk/ourchristmas for more information.
Caitlin Maggs, 24, called the Mind Infoline last December when she felt lost and at breaking point, said: “I find Christmas a particularly anxious time. Every year, there is extra pressure to be happy, to have love surround you - and for me, it feels the loneliest because of this. The media create this ‘perfect’ vision of a family Christmas - and it's an ideal that has hung over me and made me very miserable. My depression and anxiety always gets worse in December.
“Last Christmas I turned to Mind. Feeling lost and at breaking point, I found Mind's Infoline on their website and reached out. I needed to speak to someone who could just listen without judgement and give advice. The lady who answered my call was incredibly friendly and informative. She was able to relate instantly and empathise. We talked through what help I could get and by the end of the conversation I had already begun to feel better. Before I reached out to Mind, I'd felt as though I was trapped in a dark well. Mind threw me a rope and I caught hold of it. I can't thank Mind enough for their support.”
Stephen Buckley, Head of Information for Mind, said: “Although for many people Christmas is something to look forward to, it can also bring with it additional pressures such as financial strains, feeling that everything has to be perfect and loneliness. This can be particularly difficult for the one in four people who experience a mental health problem, especially if they feel unable to ask for help. Mind can’t make Christmas perfect, but we can ensure that everyone has the support they need, whether through our Infoline or online resources such as our guides for coping with stress and our Elefriends online peer support community. We can’t provide these without your support, so please donate to our Christmas Appeal at mind.org.uk/ourchristmas to help us be there for someone who needs us this Christmas.”
¹ Polling was conducted by Populus who interviewed 2,037 GB adults 18+ online between 9 and 10 November 2016. 284 respondents are currently experiencing a mental health problem.
Visit mind.org.uk/ourchristmas to find out how Mind can support you this Christmas, including free information on coping with stress or mental health problems, the Mind infoline and how to join Mind’s online peer support community Elefriends.
Public Mental Health