More than a third (36%) of people with mental health problems have self-harmed to cope with the pressure of Christmas, while 45% have considered taking their own life, according to a survey.
The survey, by mental health charity Mind of 1,100 of its supporters, also found that 52% have considered harming themselves at Christmas. Meanwhile, 76% admitted to having had problems sleeping at Christmas, and nearly 60% said they had experienced panic attacks over the festive period.
For some people, the Christmas period can be a challenging time. Last year more than 21,000 people with mental health problems spent the festive season in hospital because they were unwell, meaning thousands of families across England were faced with empty chairs at their Christmas dinner tables and gatherings.
Reasons people gave for struggling at Christmas included getting into debt (41%) feeling lonely (83%) and finding Christmas stressful (81%). The findings come as the charity anticipates a spike in the number of people calling the Mind Infoline for support after Christmas.
About a third (29%) of people told Mind that they try to connect with people they have lost touch with at Christmas, while 19% have called a helpline for advice or support.
Stephen Buckley, head of information at Mind, said: “Coping with a mental health problem can be difficult at any time of year but at Christmas there are special demands that can leave you feeling worse than usual. Our research shows that people are struggling due to the stress, financial impact and pressure to join in when everyone around you seems to be having fun.
“Some people aren’t able to be with loved ones this Christmas and worry about feeling lonely. Christmas can also make existing problems seem even bigger – especially if you are unhappy, and everyone else is having fun.
“While people can turn to less healthy ways of coping when struggling at Christmas – smoking, drinking too much or eating comfort food – this can also have a serious impact on our health. We’re urging people to look out for one another and show that you care. By listening, sympathetically, by being affectionate, appreciative, or simply by spending time with loved ones.”