It’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? Well, yes, to many of us it is. Christmas can be a great opportunity to see loved ones we don’t see enough of and focus on the positives in our lives.
That’s not the case for everyone, though. While we are all under pressure to enjoy ourselves and be singularly and determinedly happy it is worth remembering life’s not really like that.
Whether it’s the pressure of trying to keep a brave face all the time simply because it’s the festive season or the fact the promised dream of a perfect, happy family simply isn’t there, or that depression is an illness which holds no respect for season, times can be tough for lots of people.
This should not be forgotten about and it is much to our politicians’ credit they are publicly highlighting the need to talk.
Mental Health Minister Jamie Hepburn used his Christmas message to stress that help is available for people who are experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety this Christmas.
While the number of people committing suicide in Scotland fell by 12.5% in 2014, a total of 696 people still took their own lives.
Think about that for a second. Almost two people a day – who could have been your friend, your sister, brother, son, daughter, mum, dad – found it all too much.
Months of pressure, wondering, feeling hurt and hopeless eventually overwhelmed them and they decided to take the ultimate step.
That’s why it’s vital to talk.
Anyone who knows me will realise this advice is slightly ironic given my propensity to clam up, say everything’s fine in some stupid attempt at stoicism when it actually feels like the world is going to collapse on top of me.
That is why it is a massive step in the right direction to have Breathing Space, a government-funded phone line which offers free, non-judgmental and confidential advice for people who are feeling low.
Its helpline is staffed by a team of dedicated mental health professionals who will listen to concerns and can provide signposting to sources of support in your local area.
Talking goes not only for those who need support but to those who can provide it. Sometimes “what’s wrong” is in fact the wrong question. Just being there with a sympathetic ear can make a massive difference.
Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, used her Christmas message to encourage us to reach out.
She said: “If you’re lonely, worried about your job, your marriage or relationship is in difficulty or you are suffering from bereavement, far from being the best time of year, Christmas can be the hardest.
“I hope everyone can find time to enjoy themselves, but also to make those precious couple of phone calls or visits to those who – at this time of year more than ever – need to hear a friendly voice or see a familiar face.”
She’s right. Don’t suffer on your own and, those who can, please reach out to those who need it.
Breathing Space is open from 6pm to 2am Monday to Thursday and from 6pm Friday all though the weekend to 6am Monday.
The phone number is 0800 83 85 87 or for more information visit www.breathingspace.scot.
The Samaritans offer emotional support 24-hours-a-day and can be contacted free on 116 123 or visit: www.samaritans.org.