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Woman sad at Christmas time

Looking after your mental health over the festive period

by Sandra Issar

This time of year can be difficult for many people and it can really take a toll on your mental health.

The additional pressures of the festive season can be stressful – especially for those who already struggle with their mental health.

The Mind mental health website has great tips for coping during Christmas, which includes information about self-care and the importance of prioritising your own wellbeing.

It also includes suggestions about supporting others at this time, highlighting how everyone has different experiences of Christmas.

Self-help tools

Kind to Your Mind has lots of advice and useful resources to help look after your mental health. It is home to ALMA – the dedicated health and wellbeing website with a range of free online therapy courses to help you deal with stress, getting better sleep, improving resilience and coping with your emotions.

The Kind to Your Mind Podcast has a series of useful conversations with top tips and practical advice to help you through. Search Kind to Your Mind on your podcast provider or you can listen via the website: www.kindtoyourmind.org/podcast/

The website links to the NHS Better Health Every Mind Matters website which also contains expert advice and lots of practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing. By answering five quick questions you will get a free personalised NHS-approved Mind Plan with practical tips to help you manage stress and anxiety, sleep better and boost your mood.

Cllr Christine Bannon, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health, said:

“The festive season and Christmas time in particular can be a hard time for many people.


“People may have lost a loved one and find this time of year especially difficult, they may have a perception that everyone else is enjoying themselves, or they may be struggling with their mental health after what has been another challenging year with the pandemic.


“If you know someone who may be feeling isolated or struggling emotionally at this time of year, please take time to reach out to them and offer your support.


“If anyone needs further help, please encourage them to access the free, expert support which is available to people 24/7, 365 days a year.”

Support for people of all ages

The Better Health Every Mind Matters website has a range of dedicated support and resources to help parents look after the mental wellbeing of their children and for young people to care for their own mental health.

Young people in Knowsley aged between 10 and 19 years can access free counselling and wellbeing support with Kooth. The online support is free, safe and anonymous and provides advice on a range of topics. Young people can chat to the friendly Kooth community or speak to a member of the Kooth team.

Meanwhile, the Young Minds website has some really useful advice for children and young people and parents/ carers.

For those aged 55 and over the Silver Line is a helpline which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. It is free to call on 0800 4 70 80 90 from a mobile or landline.

Listening Ear provide a range of emotional and psychological therapies and support services for children, young people and adults.

Knowsley CAMHS Services is a referral service for children and young people in Knowsley whose emotional, behavioural or mental health issues are causing them problems in their school, family or social life. If you are worried about your child, make an appointment to speak to your GP.

Qwell offers adults over 19 in Knowsley free digital mental health support 24 hours a day, seven days a week with access to an extensive range of self-care information and resources such as an online journal and peer-to-peer support via moderated forums.

One-on-one online counselling sessions with fully qualified wellbeing practitioners are also available 365 days a year, from midday to 10pm on weekdays, and from 6pm to 10pm at weekends and holidays.

Think Wellbeing offers free NHS therapy for people with anxiety or low mood, to help people change the way they feel by changing the way they think.

Available to anyone aged over 16 who is registered with a Knowsley GP, you can self-refer via the website.   Similar services exist in other areas for those who live outside of Knowsley.

SHOUT is a free, confidential text messaging service available 24/7 for anyone who is feeling low, anxious, worried, overwhelmed or not quite yourself. The number won’t appear on your phone bill.

By texting the word ‘REACH’ to 85258 you will start a conversation with a trained volunteer who will listen and support you to get to a calmer and safer place.

Stay Alive, the suicide prevention app (available free on iOS and Android devices), is designed to help both those who are having suicidal thoughts and those who are concerned about someone else.

It has several features including a safety plan and LifeBox where people can upload images or videos that remind them of their reasons to stay alive. The app also directs people to local help and gives people the tools to start a conversation about mental health and suicide.

Help in a crisis

If you, or someone you know, need urgent help mental health support please call the NHS Mental Health crisis line on 0800 051 1508.  NHS staff will then support you to get the help you need. This is available 24/7 for people of all ages, including children and young people.