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.

Clare Haughey also thanked those who provide help and support to people dealing with mental health problems associated with stress and loneliness during the festive period.

Ms Haughey spoke ahead of a visit to the Breathing Space call centre in Glasgow. Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line offering advice to people experiencing anxiety, depression or low mood. Support is also available at Living Life, which offers more in depth telephone-based and online therapy, and Samaritans, who provide confidential non-judgmental, free emotional support 24 hours a day for people struggling to cope.

Ms Haughey said:

“We have greater awareness of mental health issues than ever before. While many of us are celebrating at Christmas we know it can be a difficult time of year for some people. I want people to know that they do not need to suffer alone, support is available and no-one should ever feel afraid to 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 this 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, Breathing Space National Co-Ordinator, said:

“For people suffering with low-mood, anxiety or depression the festive season can be a really difficult time. Sometimes our thoughts and feelings can overwhelm us and it’s important that we talk to someone when we need to. Breathing Space is here for when people need a listening ear.”

James Jopling, Executive Director for Scotland at Samaritans, said: 

“We know this can be a difficult time of year and that many people can struggle with feelings of loneliness or isolation over the holidays. That’s why Samaritans volunteers are here for anyone who needs us during the festive period, day or night. Our phone line is free, you can call from a mobile even if you don’t have credit and calls to us won’t show up on your phone bill. Whatever you’re going through, our confidential listening service means you don’t have to face it alone.”

Breathing Space can be contacted on 0800 83 85 87, 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday; and 24 hours at the weekend

Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day on 116 123  or by emailing


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. Breathing Space 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:

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.

The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government for 2018/19 announced an additional £250 million of investment in mental health over the next five years, to introduce a package of measures to improve services for children, young people and adults, and embed support for good mental health across Scotland’s public services. Our Mental Health:PfG Delivery Plan outlines how we will deliver these measures.


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