Support for mental health at Christmas

Reducing stress and anxiety.

People should protect their mental health this Christmas, with a range of support available for those experiencing depression, low mood, stress or anxiety.

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey also thanked people working across the NHS, social services, the third sector and local communities for their continued hard work and dedication, ensuring those in distress have someone to help them.

Ms Haughey said:

“We have greater awareness of mental health issues than ever before and its vital we look after ourselves and others who may be suffering from depression or anxiety.

“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.

“I also want thank everyone across the country who is working to ensure that people in distress have someone to turn to when they need it.”

Tony McLaren, Breathing Space National Coordinator, said:

"Christmas can be a poignant and difficult time of year for some people. It's important to know that you are not alone and that our advisors at Breathing Space are available to listen and offer advice.

“It's always better to open up and speak about your anxieties and stresses sooner rather than later. The Breathing Space phone line is open throughout the holidays if you need someone to talk to. "

This year, the Scottish Government announced a number of steps to improve the mental health of young people and directly target the impact of social media and body image on mental wellbeing. This included the UK’s first guidance on social media use, created by young people, for young people.

Mental health and suicide prevention training has also launched, with every football club and local authority across Scotland signing up to support their staff.

An innovative programme supporting people in distress was also extended to cover 16 and 17-year-olds across Lanarkshire, the Borders, Inverness and Aberdeen. The Distress Brief Intervention (DBI) programme is part of the Scottish Government’s mental health strategy and involves specially trained staff helping individuals manage difficult emotions and problem situations early on to prevent future crisis.

In 2020, new community wellbeing services and a 24/7 crisis support service will also be created to ensure everyone has access to the help and support they need.


A range of services and support available, including Breathing Space, which is a free, confidential phone line offering advice to people experiencing anxiety, depression or low mood. 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.

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.

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 to find details of your local branch where you can talk to one of our trained volunteers face to face.

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



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