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Check on friends and family this festive season

Hardships of many kinds, financial, drought, fires and floods, work and relationships can all lead to an extremely difficult Christmas and New Year period for some. Loneliness and missing loved ones can be particularly stressful at this time too.

This year health authorities are calling on all Queenslanders to check on their friends, neighbours and family, as more people are admitted to hospital for mental health conditions than at any other time of the year.

Queensland Health data for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years shows a higher proportion of patients were admitted to hospital for mental health conditions in November and December, compared to other months of the year.

Queensland Health Chief Psychiatrist Dr John Reilly said mental health conditions also account for many presentations to emergency departments over the holiday season.

“Christmas can be a particularly lonely time for people experiencing mental health problems. Something as simple as a phone call to a relative or friend to let them know they have support could mean a world of difference to that person,” Dr Reilly said.

“Additionally, if you notice changes in a loved one’s thoughts, mood or behaviour. Perhaps they’ve been angry, sad, stressed or irritable or they have been consuming more alcohol than usual? It could be a warning sign that something is wrong.

“People who have mental health problems can find it difficult talk about their situation. Be sensitive to changes you notice in them and consider asking if they have also noticed any changes.”

Dr Reilly said mental health information and support was available from many sources. The Head to Health website provides good information including links to various on line and telephone based support services including phone lines and text services. If you want to talk to someone about your situation there are various 24 hour crisis lines available including the following:

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Kids Help Line 1800 551 800
  • Mensline 1300 78 99 78
  • Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36

“However, anyone requiring emergency assistance should continue to use the 000 number.”

For people with more severe or urgent mental health disorders, Queensland Health’s mental health services can provide advice including service options on the mental health support line 24/7 phone 1300 MH CALL (1300 64 2255)

Last updated: 23 December 2019