Help for those who need it this Christmas

CHRISTMAS: It can be the most wonderful time of the year - but not for everyone.

National mental health organisation SANE Australia is urging anyone struggling with mental health concerns to seek support during this often-tough time of year.

"You can't snap out of mental illness for Christmas," SANE Help Centre Manager Suzanne Leckie said.

"There is an expectation to feel joyful this time of year, but not everyone does."

Christmas can be a difficult time of year for people affected by mental illness for many reasons.

People living with mental illness are particularly prone to feeling isolated.

"Feelings of loneliness can occur even when surrounded by groups of people," Ms Leckie said.

"If you have mental health concerns, you're not alone."

One in five Australians live with mental illness each year and only 35% of people experiencing mental illness symptoms seek help from health services.

"There are places you can find mental health support, even on Christmas Day which can be a particularly difficult day," Ms Leckie said.

Mental illness is not more common in rural and remote areas than in cities, but rates of suicide are much higher as services can be harder to access and stigma greater.

"We still have work to do in reducing stigma around mental illness, especially for the conditions at the more severe end of the scale," Ms Leckie said.

The SANE Online Forums continue to be moderated 24 hours a day, every day, by mental health professionals during the holiday period.

The forums bring together individuals, family, friends and carers affected by mental illness.

"The forums are anonymous so it doesn't matter who you are, or where you live, there's no judgement," Ms Leckie said.

"You can ask anything on the peer support forms and receive support from people who understand."

Visit www.saneforums.org for support with mental health issues this holiday season.

Mental health services operating 24/7 over the holiday season

SANE Australia Online Forums - www.saneforums.org

Lifeline 13 11 14

Suicide Call Back Line 1800 659 467

BeyondBlue 1300 224 636

Mensline 1300 789 978

KidsHelpline 1800 551 800

1800RESPECT 1800 737 732



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