What not to say to people struggling with their mental health at Christmas

3 min read
13 December 2019

There can be a lot of pressure around Christmas and the festive holidays to behave a certain way, which may be difficult if we are struggling with our mental health. We asked our Activists and other young people on our Instagram what unhelpful comments they hear around the holidays, and what they'd like to hear instead. Here's what they said:

"Cheer up, it's Christmas"

“A better one would be, ‘I understand that you are struggling; it’s OK to not feel good around this time of year.’” – Jacob

“That’s not always possible, especially when you’re struggling with your mental health. A more helpful thing would be, ‘I can see you’re not feeling great. What do you need from us right now?’” – Rosie

“Is there anything I can do to help over Christmas?” – Issy

"Don't be such a Grinch/Scrooge!"

“Christmas means different things to everyone. It’s OK not to feel the same.” – Lisa

“If you need to excuse yourself, that’s OK. But understand how you’re feeling is acceptable.” – Frankie

“I know things are hard and people expect you to act happy but you can always be yourself with me.” – Toby

"Christmas is a time for family"

“For some people that’s great, but for others who have tricky relationships with family members (or no family at all), it can be more helpful to hear, ‘Christmas is a good opportunity to spend time with people you love.’” – Rosie

“If you need someone to call or text during the holidays, I’m here for you.” - Iris

"Stop being antisocial...It's Christmas!"

“Not everyone feels comfortable socialising when they are struggling with their mental health. So instead of this you could say, ‘You don’t have to have plans this holiday season. Be spontaneous and maybe use this time to let yourself grow – or do nothing. It’s your choice.’” – Ulfa

“Do you need some alone time?” – Amelia

"Stop acting like this, you're ruining everyone's Christmas"

“If you feel overwhelmed, you can leave the room whenever you like. We’re here for you.” – Carys

“I know you’re struggling, and it’s OK.” - Grace

"Christmas is a time to eat lots of food"

“I know this time of year with food is tough, but do what you can and I will be here” – Hannah

"Is that all you're going to eat? It's Christmas!"

“Eat as much as you want. Don’t feel pressured.” – Elea

"New year, new you"

"New year, same you - but with new opportunities." - Eleanor

A good place to start

When we asked our Activists and other young people what things they find unhelpful to hear at Christmas, and what they would rather hear instead, we got lots of responses, which just goes to show that if you are struggling with your mental health during the holidays, you are not alone.

And if you know someone who is struggling with their mental health and you’re not sure how to support them during the holidays, one answer came up a lot which may be a good place to start:

“Are you OK?”

Where to get help

If you are struggling with your mental health now or during the holidays, have a look at our find help page for guidance and advice on how to get help.

Find help

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