Mental health at Christmas

Help available for low mood, depression and anxiety.

People experiencing depression, low mood or anxiety should be encouraged to seek help this Christmas, the Mental Health Minister has said.

Maureen Watt also thanked those who provide help and support to those dealing with mental health problems associated with stress and loneliness at this time of year.

Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line offering advice to people experiencing anxiety, depression or low mood. Also available is Living Life, which offers more in depth telephone-based and online therapy.

Samaritans provide confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day, for people who are experiencing feelings of distress or despair.

Ms Watt said:

“I think our much greater awareness of mental health issues in recent years has highlighted that this can be a difficult time of year for many people. Hopefully that increased knowledge also means that people know that they do not need to suffer alone, that support is available and that no-one should ever feel afraid to speak up and ask for help if they feel depressed or anxious.

“I would urge anyone who is feeling low or anxious to reach out to Breathing Space, Samaritans or other services to make sure they get help. This time of year can be overwhelming and we should all aim to be more aware of the toll that can sometimes take and do what we need to reduce unnecessary stress and anxiety.

“I also want thank everyone across the country – in the NHS, social services, the third sector and in local communities - who is working to ensure that people in distress have someone to help them.”

There are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce stress and anxiety over the festive period:

  • Avoid excess alcohol and too much food
  • Exercise can reduce stress and lift a low mood
  • Take time for yourself and relax on your own terms
  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Talk to others and take the time to listen.

Tony McLaren, National Coordinator of Breathing Space, said:

“Remember, if you are experiencing emotional distress during the festive season and feel you can’t talk to your family or friends, then call a phone line such as Breathing Space. Our advisors are available every day of the year to listen and offer you support. Call them in confidence on freephone 0800 83 85 87 to talk about what you're going through."

Executive Director of Samaritans in Scotland, James Jopling, said:

“If you’re dealing with difficult thoughts and feelings, the festive season can make everything seem worse. Whether you’re on your own or feeling alone in a crowd, we don’t want anyone to struggle. So, remember you can call Samaritans for free from any phone and, if you’re expecting to have a good Christmas this year yourself, have a think about those around you who may not be as lucky and give them the gift of listening.”

Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123.



Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line funded by the Scottish Government and run by NHS 24 offering a free, confidential and compassionate response to  people experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. They can be contacted on 0800 83 85 87, 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday; and 24 hours at the weekend. Calls to Breathing Space are free from landlines and from mobile networks.  provides a wide range of useful information and advice about coping with low mood, depression and anxiety.

A video about Breathing Space and Christmas Stress is available here:‚Äč

For more information on Living Life visit 

Anyone can contact Samaritans any time for free from any phone on 116 123. This number is free to call and will not show up on your phone bill. Or email or go to to find details of your local branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.


Media enquiries

Back to top