It's OK not to be OK: how to look after your mental health this Christmas

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A leading Consultant Psychiatrist is calling on people across North Wales to take simple steps to look after their mental health over the Christmas period.

Dr Alberto Salmoiraghi is urging people to take the time to look after themselves and their loved ones over the busy festive period, and reminding people of the support available 24/7 from the C.A.L.L Mental Health Helpline for Wales.

Dr Alberto Salmoiraghi Dr Salmoiraghi, a Consultant Psychiatrist and Medical Director at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, says there are a number of small things people can do to look after themselves and their loved ones over the festive period.

He said: “For many people Christmas is a very happy time which is spent in the company of friends and loved ones, but it is a stressful period. If people experience poor mental health it can be a very difficult period.

 “It can be hard to admit that at such a supposedly happy time of year you’re not feeling great, but sharing how you are feeling with family, friends or somebody you trust can often be the first step towards making things better.

“In the busy run up to Christmas it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves.  But there are a number of small steps we can all take to look after our mental health.

“Cold weather and shorter days can make it difficult to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, but light, regular exercise such as a short walk with friends can really boost your self-esteem and help you feel better.

“Checking in on somebody who may be feeling lonely and isolated at this time of year will not only help them feel less alone, but also give your own wellbeing a boost too.

“There is also help available online with self-help material on the NHS and Royal College of Psychiatrists’ website.  

It's OK not to be OK this Christmas 2019 Dr Salmoiraghi also says it’s important for people to know their limits, as Christmas celebrations gather pace.

“Spending time celebrating in the company of friends and family can have a very positive impact on our mental health, but equally moderation is important. Getting enough sleep, eat well and not exceeding in alcohol consumption may help in maintaining good mental health.

“Having a little less really can make you feel a lot better!”

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is also encouraging people who are struggling to cope with the pressures associated with Christmas to contact the C.A.L.L Mental Health Helpline for Wales, which is available 24/7 over the festive period and throughout the year.

The service provides confidential emotional support and signposting to local mental health services.

C.A.L.L Helpline Manager Luke Ogden says a combination of money worries, isolation, increased alcohol intake and winter weather can have an adverse effect on people’s mental health over the Christmas period.

He said: “Christmas can be a particularly difficult time of year for people who are struggling with mental ill health.

“We want anyone who is struggling to know that there will always be somebody available to listen and provide emotional support whenever they need it. For many people, simply talking about their problems with somebody who is ready to listen can make all the difference.

“People who don’t feel comfortable discussing their problems over the phone can contact us by text or via our Facebook and Twitter and we can provide support in that way, whenever it is needed.”

  • The free and confidential C.A.L.L Mental Health Helpline is available 24/7 to provide emotional support and signposting to local services. Call 0800 132 737, text ‘Help’ to 81066, or visit www.callhelpline.org.uk. 
  • North Wales libraries stock a range of Reading Well for mental health books, which provide helpful information and support for managing common mental health conditions. For more information please visit : https://reading-well.org.uk/wales