Opinion — 20 December 2012

As the festive season approaches the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists is highlighting the benefits of keeping in touch with family and friends this holiday season and caring for everyone’s mental health.

While for many, Christmas is a time of joy and festivities, for others the holiday season is a time of sadness and loneliness, precipitating anxiety and depression,’ said RANZCP President Dr Maria Tomasic.

‘Older relatives may be unable to travel to Christmas gatherings and would appreciate a visit on Christmas day or the week before. Australia’s population as a whole is ageing and a simple visit or telephone call can help everyone stay connected and feel valued.

‘It is important to watch out for those who may be grieving, depressed or alone to support them and let them know someone is thinking of them. This could involve inviting them to join your celebrations, checking on neighbours or giving those who you know will be alone a call.

‘Whether arising from family conflict, financial strain or alcohol intake, Christmas often causes high anxiety. But people should know that there are services and people who care, and that help is readily available. Those feeling distressed should seek help from mental health professionals, a telephone counselling service or visit their general practitioner.

‘People can use relatively simple measures to safeguard their mental health,’ said Dr Tomasic.

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists recommends:

 Making the most of the opportunity to catch up with friends and family

 Getting involved in your community by sharing Christmas wishes with neighbours and colleagues

 Making time for yourself to do the things that you love to do

 Minimising alcohol intake and steering clear of illicit drugs

 Getting adequate sleep to help relax and re-energise for the upcoming year

 People taking regular medication such as antidepressants are advised to take it strictly

 Those having treatment for a mental illness should check with their health practitioners to make sure that holiday arrangements don¡¦t disrupt follow up appointments.

As appeared in Press Release: The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 17 December 2012


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