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You're not alone this Christmas: Mental health campaign is launched

11 December 2020

A new mental health campaign, Not Alone, has been launched to help people who will find this Christmas particularly difficult to deal with.

Norfolk County Council, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, local mental health charity Norfolk and Waveney Mind, and the county’s NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are working in partnership with the support of Archant to encourage people to reach out to those who may be struggling.

Christmas is often a difficult time of year for people and, with measures in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus, we may not be able to do the things we normally do and to be with friends and family, especially if they are vulnerable and feel they need to be alone to be safe, this year.

The campaign offers support and advice via an e-card.  This digital card can be sent to people who may be struggling to show that they are being thought of and to signpost them to a range of services that can give them some extra help and support. A paper version of the card will also be free in next Friday’s edition of the EDP and Evening News.

One of the available services is the NHS Wellbeing Service, which offers a range of talking therapies, employment support, peer support and social activities by telephone, video call, instant messaging and webinars.  The service is for anyone experiencing common mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress.  People can self-refer by visiting www.wellbeingnands.co.uk or calling 0300 123 1503.

Cllr Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “I am very pleased to be working with health colleagues over this festive season to convey this very important message; it’s okay not to be okay.

“Many people experiencing a mental health problem will speak to their friends and family before they speak to a health professional, so any support you can offer would be really valuable. If someone tells you that they are struggling, it's common not to know what to do or say, but you don't need any special training to show that you care. Just being there and doing little things can make a difference. That’s exactly what this campaign is about – helping us all to be there for others – and telling us all where to find support services should they need them.”

Diane Hull, Chief Nurse at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Christmas can be a joyful time of the year, filled with festivities and seeing loved ones. However, for some people, it can also be one of the hardest times of the year - this so more than ever as we have to learn to celebrate differently. If you’re worried about feeling isolated and lonely why not join an online wellbeing social? You’ll be sure to ‘meet’ other like-minded people and have a bit of fun. 

“Across the festive period the Wellbeing service is holding a variety of online social events, including mince pies and chat, crafts and a quiz, all designed to improve your wellbeing and help you connect with others. Events are open to everyone and to find out more, go to the Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney social events page.

“There is also a brand new podcast looking at how to stay well during the festive period, by staying connected, engaging in self-care and reaching out for support when you need it.  Visit the Wellbeing Norfolk and Waveney website to download or stream the podcast and find out more.

“If you start to feel unsafe, distressed or worried about your mental health you can call the First Response helpline on 0808 196 3494 - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all through the festive period.”

Sonja Chilvers, Director of Operations at Norfolk and Waveney Mind, said: “For many people Christmas is a time of festivity, it can bring its challenges and for some people it can accentuate feelings of loneliness which can really impact on our mental health.  Faced too by the challenges presented by the Coronavirus and the impact this is having on our lives, it’s natural to feel worried, stressed and low in mood, particularly as we enter the festive period.  Not feeling able to reach out for support can leave you thinking that there’s nowhere to turn. As your local mental health charity, Norfolk and Waveney Mind, along with our partner organisations are here to support you through this.”

Dr Ardyn Ross, GP and Mental Health Clinical Lead for NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s important to remember that there are many people who can help you over the festive period, especially if you are feeling low. Help the local health and care system spread the word by taking part in the ‘Not Alone’ campaign this Christmas.”

Tips for looking after yourself this Christmas

Take a break if you need to

If you're feeling overwhelmed this festive season by a stressful situation, try to take a break. Think about what helps you relax and make time to do something just for you. 

For example, this could be having a bath, listening to music or reading a book.

Connecting with others

Connecting with others can help us have a greater sense of belonging and reduce feelings of loneliness. If you are unable to see friends or loved ones in person this Christmas organise a phone call, send a text or catch up online.

Eat Well and Drink Sensibly

Try to be mindful and think about balance and moderation when it comes to food and alcohol over the festive period as this can help your mood and energy levels.

Try to keep active

It’s tempting to stay indoors, curled up on the sofa watching a film over the festive period.  However, spending time keeping active can help improve your health and wellbeing. Try to build physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. You could try going for a walk or doing some work in the garden.

It is ok to ask for help

Remember people care about you and there is always someone there to listen, even over the festive period. Sharing your feelings with someone else can help you feel supported and less alone.

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