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11 December 2019updated 08 Jun 2021 10:49am

CALM launches Christmas wellbeing campaign as major parties outline mental health plans

By Rohan Banerjee

The Campaign Against Living Miserably, a mental health charity, has launched a social media drive to raise awareness around the mental health challenges associated with Christmas. Run in partnership with Twitter, CALM hopes that #YuleSlog can encourage people to talk about stress exacerbated by the festive period.

Financial concerns and managing a packed social calendar are some of the pressures relating to Christmas, alongside feelings of loneliness. A report from Twitter found that 49 per cent of its users admit to feeling “pressured into having fun” at Christmas, which leads to anxiety. Meanwhile, 41 per cent of users said that they experienced feelings of inadequacy or were more likely to be more self-critical due to the swelling of social media posts over the holidays showing apparently idyllic Christmas events and parties.

Mental health is a live issue in this general election, with major parties aiming to tackle one of the great challenges to national wellbeing and productivity. In total, 15.4 million working days were lost in 2017/18 as a result of cases of poor mental health, including depression and anxiety, up from 12.5 million the previous year. This accounts for nearly 60 per cent of the 26 million plus work days lost to ill health according research the Health and Safety Executive.

As well as sharing personal stories and advice using the hashtag, including articles on how to cope with different Christmas commitments and activities, CALM is also drawing attention to its year-round anonymous helpline and webchat services that operate from 5pm until midnight every day.

The chief executive of CALM, Simon Gunning, said in a statement: “Spreading a message of reality and positivity can be empowering for those struggling through this period and with this partnership we aim to celebrate the power of connection and communication.”

With voters heading to the polls on Thursday, mental health has been a focus of manifesto pledges for major parties. The Conservatives have promised that mental health will be treated with the “same urgency” as physical health and plan to recruit more specialist mental health nurses, though their manifesto does not detail any exact figures or timescales.

The Liberal Democrats have pledged to ring-fence funding from its 1p increase on income tax to ensure extra investment in mental health provision, and plan to introduce a maximum waiting time limit on patients suffering from mental health problems.

The Labour Party has pledged an extra £1.6bn a year to cover mental health provision, as well as an additional £2bn to modernise hospital facilities and end out-of-area placements. The party also plans to introduce a 24/7 “crisis service” and to recruit over 3,000 new qualified counsellors to guarantee every child access to in-school mental health guidance and support.

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