It’s OK to not be OK - even at Christmas. Here are some places you can reach out to for support if you need it
Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. A chance to see family and friends, create memories and exchange gifts. But, it’s not always the most wonderful time of year for everyone; mental ill-health doesn’t discriminate and it certainly doesn’t follow the rules of our calendar.
We hope you can enjoy the festivities but, if you find yourself in need of support over the Christmas and New Year period, there are places that can help.
Where to get urgent help
It’s important to remember that mental health emergencies should be taken as seriously as a medical emergency. If you think you are at risk of taking your own life, seriously harming yourself and need immediate medical attention, or if you are worried about someone else, trust your instincts and seek help.
If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help:
- Go to any Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.
- Call 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you to A&E.
- Ask someone else to call 999 for you or take you to A&E.
If you need urgent support but don't want to go to A&E, you could:
- Contact NHS 111.
- Contact your local crisis team (CRHT), if you're under their care.
- Contact your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment. Note: GP surgeries are closed on Bank Holidays but, if you phone your nearest surgery, the answering machines will usually give you advice on how to get hold of an out-of-hours doctor.
- Call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email them on email@example.com – they're always open and are there to listen.
When everywhere else is closed, we're still open. Even on Christmas Day. You can talk to us, no matter what you're going through 💚 pic.twitter.com/YKSdgM5yvq— Samaritans (@samaritans) December 22, 2019
If you need advice or someone impartial to talk to, the services below are offering support throughout the festive period.
- For mental health crisis support, you can ring the SANEline on 0300 304 7000 between 4:30pm-10:30pm, each evening.
- For general mental health help, you can access help via text from Shout. Simply text SHOUT to 85258 for 24/7 crisis support. This service is available for free on major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.
- Childline is a confidential line offering support for young people under 19 (and their relatives), offering advice about any topic. You can speak to a counsellor by calling 0800 1111 or via one to one chat between 7:30am and 3:30am every day.
- The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a helpline for men and is open from 5pm-midnight on 0800 58 58 58. The CALM webchat is also open during these hours.
- Switchboard is a line for LGBT+ support: 0300 330 0630. The helpline is open 10am-10pm 365 days a year. Or you can email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Silver Line is a line, open 24/7, for those over the age of 55 offering information, advice and friendship: 0800 4708 090.
- For eating disorder support, contact the Beat Helpline on 0808 801 0677. The phone line will be open 4-8pm from 24 December to 1 January. Sometimes their lines are busy so, if you can't get through immediately, please try again or try their one-to-one webchat.
- The national Rape Crisis helpline is open today and every day 12pm-2.30pm and 7pm-9:30pm. The helpline offers confidential emotional support, information and referral details.
Online support services
If phone lines are busy or you don’t feel able to make a call for help, there are other ways you can access support.
The online services below can help you to find other people who are experiencing the same things as you. Finding people who understand what you’re going through can help in times when you are feeling vulnerable.
- Mind’s online community Side by Side is a supportive place where you can feel at home talking about your mental health and connect with others who understand.
- Join Togetherall, the leading online mental health support service in the UK, which has professionally trained and registered moderators available around the clock.
If you feel that you could benefit from ongoing support, now could be a good time to explore counselling. Visit Counselling Directory to find a counsellor in your local area or online who could help you. It’s good to talk.
For a full list of mental health support services, visit our Where to get help page. Please remember that some of these charities may be offering reduced services over the Christmas period.
To view this list as a handy guide that you can share with your friends and family, take a look at our Instagram guide, 'Mental health support over Christmas'.
Article updated 18 December 2020. Originally published 24 December 2019.