‘Tis the season to be stressed

One in 10 feel ‘unable to cope’ during winter holiday
Pressures pile up

The pressure to have the ‘perfect Christmas’ is wreaking havoc on our mental health, new research has shown. Mind, the UK’s leading mental health charity, revealed last week that more than one in 10 people feel unable to cope at Christmas, and that one in five feel lonelier during the festive season than at any other time of year. Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 Brits last month, and found that more than a quarter of people felt the pressure to have the ‘perfect Christmas’.

It is a particularly challenging time of year for those experiencing mental health problems; with the number of people feeling unable to cope almost triple that of the wider population (31%), and 39% feeling lonelier now than at any other time of year. They are also twice as likely to feel the pressure of perfection as the national average and 19% admitted they compare their Christmas to others on social media. More disturbing was the finding that one in 20 people consider 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%).

Commenting on the findings, Mind’s head of information Stephen Buckley 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.”

One in 10 people with a mental health problem don’t know where to get professional support over the festive period if they needed it, prompting Stephen’s plea for people to donate to the charity’s Christmas appeal. “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,” he said. “Please donate to our Christmas Appeal at mind.org.uk/ourchristmas to help us be there for someone who needs us this Christmas.”