All posts by actionmentalhealth

Welcome to AMH events 2022!

To whet your appetite, please find below a list of some of our signature events. 

Why not get involved and support AMH’s vital services across Northern Ireland?

More exciting events announced soon!

Europa Hotel Abseil 20th March

Descend one of Belfast’s most iconic landmarks, and have great fun raising funds for the vital work of Action Mental Health.

https://europahotelabseil2022.eventbrite.co.uk

Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon 1st May

Run, walk, wheel or relay to support Action Mental Health

On your mark, get set, GO!

https://bcm-2022.eventbrite.co.uk

Great Big Purple Picnic – 9th to 15th May

The Great Big Purple Picnic takes place during Mental Health Awareness Week, and the theme this year is loneliness. Organising a picnic together is an excellent way to tackle loneliness and engage with the Five Ways to Wellbeing:

Connect

Be Active

Take Notice

Keep Learning

Give

A full pack is available upon registration.

*The Five Ways to Wellbeing was developed by New Economics Foundation.  It is a set of evidence-based actions designed to improve personal well-being.

https://gbpp-2022.eventbrite.co.uk

Go Purple for World Mental Health Day 10th October

You can choose to Go Purple any time from 10th – 16th October.

Have a purple themed day and wear something purple.  Walk a purple mile: this mile could be a mile a day for the full week, or all at once – the choice is up to you.

A full pack is available upon registration.

https://gopurple2022.eventbrite.co.uk

As with all events, please adhere to any government guidance.

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/coronavirus-covid-19

Thank you for your interest in the vital work of Action Mental Health.

Your support means so much!

If you have any questions the team would be delighted to help, contact them at: fundraising@amh.org.uk

AMH toasts a year of successes despite the uncertainty of life in Covid times

Like the previous year, Action Mental Health, in 2021, delivered its diverse range of services to clients in innovative ways to accommodate the ‘new normal’ of Covid restrictions.

And though regular services have yet to fully return to that of pre-pandemic times, Action Mental Health has continued to support people living with mental ill health and to promote well-being throughout the community to people of all ages.

Action Mental Health marked various successes and progress throughout the year, with the announcement of Ten Year Mental Health Strategy, a long-awaited pinnacle, following years of determined campaigning by the charity.

The Strategy was announced as the key to setting the future strategic direction of mental health services in Northern Ireland. The much anticipated new way forward was welcomed by AMH Chief Executive, David Babington, who recognised the mammoth task of bolstering local mental health services. “We know the size of the challenge that we face and the publication of the strategy is only the first step on a long road to help build better mental health for all, across Northern Ireland.”

The year also witnessed the launch of Action Mental Health’s latest mental health and well-being programme – Healthy Heroes, a year-long initiative for P7 children. Healthy Heroes aims to help 10 and 11 year olds cope with the transition from primary on to secondary level education. Healthy Heroes addresses anxiety, stress and managing changes, self-esteem, courage, confidence, learning differences and friendship.

Karen Hillis and Rachel Horner from AMH MensSana team launch Healthy Heroes with the pupils from St Bernard’s Primary School, Newtownabbey

The launch of Action Mental Health’s latest Impact Report revealed the extensive reach of the charity’s services, throughout the pandemic. It showed that 20,861 people benefitted from AMH Resilience Services ¬– across community and school settings and individuals. A further 1422 clients were aided through their journey back to better mental health at the charity’s recovery services, AMH New Horizons, where 1504 accredited training outcomes were achieved and 98 clients progressed to paid employment, voluntary work or further education/training.

The report highlighted the significant benefits of AMH New Life Counselling’s services, with 12,776 counselling sessions offered to 2,714 individuals and families.

Action Mental Health continued to make a valuable contribution to the Covid Wellbeing online hub, set up in 2020, offering tips and advice on a range of issues from anxiety and depression, dealing with stress while working from home, to tackling the stigma attached to mental ill-health issues.

Autumn also marked developments in ChatPal – a multi-national project aimed at providing mental health support in rural areas in parts of northern European periphery and Artic areas (NPA) – with further progress on a multi-lingual Chatpal App. The developments mean that Chatpal, a chatbot service driven by artificial intelligence, to be available to people via an app on their mobile phones, became available in English, Scottish Gaelic, Swedish and Finnish. Chatpal began with pilot trials in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Sweden and Ireland to support the mental health and digital mental health requirements of older and younger citizens in rural and sparsely populated NPA regions.

Our Generation, the partner project which supports young people affected by the legacy of Northern Ireland’s Troubles on both sides of the border in Ireland, brought the year to a close with the launch of the inaugural Transgenerational Trauma Awareness Day, on December 15.

And of course, the vital work of Action Mental Health wouldn’t be as affective and impactful without the valuable help of a vast band of loyal fundraisers and corporate supporters.

Local firms which have contributed to the success of Action Mental Health by their generosity, include: SDC Trailers, Cranswick Foods, Mash Direct, Halifax, Outsource, Coca Cola HBC, Gordons Chemists, CTS, Portman Health Care, Victoria Square, The Law Society of Northern Ireland, Terry Bradley Art, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Ozz Bands, LoughTec, NI Jobs, Cancom, Datactics and the Construction Employers Federation.

Within the community, individuals, groups, people of all ages and from all walks of life have traipsed miles across the country, run marathons, scaled tall buildings and a carried out a whole host of other activities – inspiring and meaningful – to raise money for Action Mental Health’s vital services. And all in the uncertain times of the pandemic.

To them and all our supporters, volunteers and funders we would like to extend heartfelt gratitude for pulling out all the stops to raise money for the cause of mental health in Northern Ireland.

We hope you all get to have some time off over the festive period and we can’t wait to see you again in the New Year!

Men’s Shed renews Antrim man’s self-worth and helps turn his life around

Martin Magee with his scroll saw wooden cut-out of John Wayne

An Antrim man who fell into a deep despair after the breakdown of his marriage has begun to rebuild his life with the help of Action Mental Health’s Men’s Shed.

Martin Magee, 57, felt so low he could barely go to the shops for groceries but once he plucked up the courage to go along to the Men’s Shed everything began to look up.

Martin was 53 when he accepted someone’s advice to try the Men’s Shed, located at AMH New Horizons Antrim. The Men’s Shed is a place designed for men over the age of 50 to share skills and a laugh, socialise and connect with their wider community while forging new friendships.

Father of five Martin suffered considerable depression after his marital upheaval, and it had such an adverse effect on him he became unable to function in the ‘high flyer’ career he had built for himself.

He had been a senior lecturer in carpentry and joinery at a further education college, an official exam moderator and CCEA inspector, but soon he found he was unable to contemplate getting up for work every day.

The pressure he felt by maintaining his usual daily routine continued to mount as he struggled along, and it wasn’t long before he felt no alternative but to take advantage of a voluntary exit scheme at work.

Martin lost his house, found himself jobless and alone and estranged from a number of members of his family and wider friendship circle.

His mental well-being deteriorated and even the mere thought of going out to the shops for groceries seemed insurmountable: he was in a very bad way.

“I suffered quite bad depression; the doctor said it was between moderate to severe depression. I had lost all my self-worth by this stage and felt useless and helpless,” he admitted.

But then his sister Mary suggested he attend the Men’s Shed, located at Action Mental Health New Horizons Antrim. Encouraged by her and supported by his partner Annette, he went ahead, but with hesitation. Once there, Martin admitted he didn’t really engage much at the start of his journey with the other men.

“I didn’t really do much at the start but some of the men began to ask me how to do things because they knew of my background. I started to help them and then I began to receive great feedback from them. I even started to make items myself,” he said.

Martin’s recovery had begun.

“It really began to give me back my sense of self-worth. I started to make things at the Men’s Shed and they were amazed at what I could produce, so I thought maybe I’m not as bad as I thought I was. 

“I then took up scroll sawing, cutting out portraits, plaques and ornaments from wood, which I brought in to the Men’s Shed and I got such positive feedback that this was the route back to recovery for me.

“I kept going back to the Men’s Shed and kept helping the men; I made planters, garden furniture and other things and soon I found myself wanting to push myself, to test myself, to see what else I could do.”

The boost he gleaned from his time with the Men’s Shed gave him the impetus he needed to try to get back into employment.

“I knew myself that I couldn’t be someone who could be unemployed or live off benefits – I had to get back to work. I was working as a maintenance joiner up to the end of August and now I am working as a maintenance officer for the Housing Executive. I wanted to do it to prove to myself and to be able to do joinery work again to the level and standard that I was once able to do.”

“I’m not completely back to normal. It’s like a crashed car – you can have it repaired it but it’s still been through a crash, and has some dents. It’s like that: I’ve been through a lot and though I’m feeling a lot better, I still bear some scars.”

In his personal life, Martin is trying to rebuild bridges with his family. Meanwhile, he also wants to express his heartfelt thanks to the Men’s Shed which provided him with that vital first footing toward reclaiming his previous vibrant life.

“I don’t know where I would be without the Men’s Shed. It really was a great help. I want to thank them for everything they did for me – the men and the project workers. They were all so supportive of me and I owe them a great debt of gratitude.”

Action Mental Health’s Men’s Sheds are located at AMH New Horizons Antrim, AMH New Horizons Fermanagh and AMH New Horizons Downpatrick. Men aged 50 and over are welcome and admission is free.

AMH EveryBODY’s Tips for Coping at Christmas

The festive season, with its particular focus on food, can pose considerable challenges for those of us affected by eating disorders. AMH EveryBODY is here for you, lending a little festive support with their 12 Christmas coping tips, helping you focus instead, on the fun of the season.

Responding to Diet Talk

Research shows that hearing diet and weight talk increases body dissatisfaction.

You can choose to remove yourself from the situation, it may be helpful to let your trusted person know you are struggling with the conversation (this could mean sending them a text so that they can come and sit with you while you take a break)

You can change the topic of conversation, of if it feels safe to do so you can be honest and let people know why their comment is unhelpful. Having a prepared response can help with this – “Can we please not comment on food or weight, I’m working on healing my relationship with both and find it unhelpful. Can we talk about something else.” Set your boundaries because your recovery is worth protecting.

Remind yourself of your reasons to Recover

At particularly challenging times when there can be an increase in stress or anxiety it can be useful to remind yourself of your reasons to recover and they can serve as hope to encourage you to keep going with your recovery.

Create a Christmas Coping plan

Communicate honestly with your support systems any concerns you have around Christmas and create a plan to reduce and problem solve around these concerns. This could involve identifying triggers, agreeing on meal times, who will be there, what will be served and how best to support you if you are struggling. Sticking to a similar structure around mealtimes can be helpful. Taking this time to plan and prepare can hep remind you of your choices and reduce anxiety.

Wear comfortable clothes

This can seem like a simple one but it can be really hard not to focus on your body if you are wearing something uncomfortable. Breathable, comfortable fitting clothes can be helpful to allow you to feel more relaxed in your body. It can also be helpful to pick something with a colour or pattern that you like and focus on this if you are struggling with poor body image.

Connect with support

Eating disorders thrive in isolation. Agree check ins with your trusted supporters. It could be the people you live with, a phone call or text with friends and family, your treatment team or helplines. Staying connected reminds us we aren’t alone.

Neutralise your language around food

Remind yourself that food has no moral value. You’re not a ‘bad’ person for eating your favourite Christmas cookie… just as you’re not a ‘good’ person for eating veggies. In both these instances, you are simply a person eating food.

Give yourself kindness

Be aware of your self talk – would you talk that way to a loved one or best friend? If you wouldn’t can you offer yourself some similar words of kindness you would give them.

Other ways to show kindness-

Ditch the comparisons – you are the only you and that is your superpower!

Give yourself a break- it’s been a difficult year of change. It’s normal to need more time to rest

Recognise your own strengths and achievements and give yourself credit every time you try.

Managing Expectations

Adjust your expectations and take the pressure off. Try not to draw comparisons with Christmas past as you have survived through a pandemic. This may also have meant recovery has felt more challenging. Christmas is just one day, no matter how it does go, it does end. Be patient, keep communications open and be mindful of your own feelings and emotions. Be gentle with yourself, it’s OK not to feel quite as twinkly, or in the festive spirit this year. Take each day as it comes, and remember that you are doing the very best you can, and that is enough.

Focus on the Fun

Although it is normal for Christmas to be more difficult it can also help to remind yourself of a few things that you do enjoy celebrating this festive season that have nothing to do with food.

Maybe it’s playing board games, watching your favourite Christas movie, listening to your favourite festive tune, or those new Christmas PJs. Some of the activities can be especially important both pre- and post- mealtimes to lessen the emphasis on food.

Self-Care Coping Practices

Over the festive period it is helpful to have some self-soothing practices in place. Easy to do self-care works best, that is easily accessible in time of discomfort. It might be helpful to create a list of-

5 people you can call or text when you need support

5 ways to relax – grounding techniques (5,4,3,2,1) deep breathing, journaling, meditation etc

5 places you can go to feel calm

5 coping statements you can read over to help to reframe distorted thoughts

5 distraction activities – de-cluttering, listening to podcast, doing a jigsaw etc

Self-Care for Carers

As Carers it can be easy to give at the expense of your own needs. This can lead to physical and emotional burnout. Give yourself permission as a Carer to take some time out for yourself over the festive period.

By modelling your own self-care practices, whether it is prioritising that 15 minutes every morning for a quiet cuppa, or mindfulness, you are also setting a really good example for your loved one and could encourage them to engage in self-care also.

Keep communication open

If in doubt, JUST ASK.

Don’t make assumptions, keep communication open and honest. Accept at times we’ll not always have the perfect response, we’re humans and not robots. Communication isn’t about being right or wrong, it’s about being open enough to try to understand.

‘Is there anything I can do to support you right now?’

‘How are you feeling about things, I’d like to try to understand how it feels for you.’

A great day on the job for AMH clients

One lucky client got to spend their day’s placement at Castle Ward

Clients at Action Mental Health have been continuing to gain an insight to a variety of employment fields thanks to the recent International Job Shadow Day (IJSD).

Run by the Northern Ireland Union of Supported Employment, clients have been attending work placements with a variety of employers, including one of the NIUSE’s main partners and providers, the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Job Shadow Day takes place every year to highlight the positive contribution people with health conditions and disabilities can make to workforces and the economy.

And at Action Mental Health, specialist staff help equip clients with the skills to return to employment, further education and training through the Working It Out Project, part-funded through the ESF programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy.

One such client who participated in the annual event, Bernie, was keen to push herself ‘out of her comfort zone’ while volunteering: “I was assigned to Castle Ward, which for me was a wonderful opportunity.

“Some people may think cleaning silver and brass a rather dull job, however to be allowed to handle artefacts is a rare privilege, and I spent my time nattering about the past with like-minded people.

“It was a thorough joy and I am seriously considering going back as I have been more than welcomed; it made for such a positive week!”

Kim McMonagle of the National Trust said the organisation was delighted to welcome Bernie to work for the day as part of Job Shadow Day.

Another Kim, a client at AMH New Horizons Downpatrick, spent a day learning about the building trade with contractor, Martin Rice.

“As I enjoy the great outdoors my day entailed assisting Marty as a labourer. The job I worked on was paving a back garden area in a local area. I had to carry materials via wheel barrow and assisted with levelling of pave stones,” she recounted.

“Marty was very patience and always willing to answer any questions that I had. Through this experience I have now thought about possibly looking for work in a building environment.

Martin, of Rice Contracts Ltd., was happy to welcome a client on site to learning the tricks of the building trade. “I was happy to participate in World Shadow Day through Action Mental Health. Kim worked very well and carried out all instructions, learning how to level paving stones and assist with preparing materials. 

Martin Rice, contractor

One client placed within the Northern Ireland Civil Service commented: “I was very fortunate in having the opportunity to shadow a grade seven accountant heading a financial reporting team within the civil service.

“I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the day. Pamela (my host) was enthusiastic in gauging my knowledge to aid my understanding of current departmental issues,” said Damhan, a client at AMH New Horizons Belfast.

“This shadow day bolstered my ambitions to gain a regular placement within the financial services industry which will hopefully secure paid, long-term employment.”

Local Charities Back the Mental Health Champion’s Call for 34% Increase in Funding to Improve Mental Health in NI


Northern Ireland’s first Mental Health Champion, Professor Siobhan O’Neill is calling on all political parties to commit to the additional 34% increase in funding needed to fully implement the Mental Health Strategy.


This call is supported by several local mental health organisations including Action Mental Health, Aware, Beat, Eating Disorder Association NI, Inspire, Mental Health Foundation, Mindwise, National Children’s Bureau, Nexus, PIPS Suicide Prevention Charity, Pure Mental NI, Relate NI, The Rainbow Project and Rural Support.


“Our expenditure on mental health services is currently significantly lower than neighbouring regions (31% lower than England and 20% lower than the Republic of Ireland). The additional funding required to remedy this (approximately 34% more than the current budget), should therefore be viewed as compensating for the ongoing shortfall,” explains Professor Siobhan O’Neill.


Currently Northern Ireland has a high rate of mental ill health, linked to social and economic inequalities, the trauma of the Troubles and high rates of childhood adversities. This has been compounded recently by the COVID-19 pandemic that has led to unprecedented demand for mental health services, with staff under pressure, like never before.


In Northern Ireland prior to the pandemic, one in eight children had an emotional or mental health problem, which is higher than neighbouring regions. * There is worrying evidence that shows mental health has deteriorated because of the pandemic, and an increase in the proportions of people reporting suicidal thoughts. Mental illness is a preventable and treatable cause of death and suffering; and it is unacceptable that so many people in Northern Ireland are unable to access the treatments and services that they need and deserve.


The Department of Heath developed, in conjunction with people with lived experience, carers, campaigners and health care providers, a new 10-year Mental Health Strategy, which is the road map for reforming our mental health services. It sets out an ambitious, but achievable vision to improve services and provide the specialist treatments that we know is based on strong research evidence, can eliminate avoidable death, and transform and save lives. Importantly, the Strategy recognises the need to prioritise early intervention and the prevention of mental illness, particularly in high-risk groups.


Siobhan says: “Now is the time for action, if we can bridge the 34% funding gap it will pay dividends for current and future generations; and allow our population to thrive, bringing us in line with other regions.


“Therefore, along with the local charities and organisations working to support those in mental ill health, I ask for all local parties to pledge a clear commitment in your forthcoming manifestos, to provide the necessary funding to fully implement the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategies. This is what people on the ground need and want; and the implementation of the Strategies will help secure a happier and healthier Northern Ireland, not only for those who suffer right now, but for future generations.”


The Mental Health Strategy’s funding plan indicates a need for an additional £1.2 billion over the next 10 years, and Government Departments need to work together to ensure that this is funding is made available. The Executive’s draft budget includes a proposal to increase health spending by 10%, this increase is welcome and would include sufficient funds to cover the annual uplift required to implement the Mental Health Strategy for the proposed duration of the budget.


Supporting the call, David Babington, Chief Executive of Action Mental Health said: “Action Mental Health warmly welcomed the publication of Northern Ireland’s Mental Health Strategy, something we had long campaigned for. As such, we fully support this call from the Mental Health Champion and the wider sector for that strategy to be
fully funded, so that the ambitious vison outlined can become a reality.


Even before the pandemic, Northern Ireland faced huge challenges with the highest prevalence of mental health problems in the UK. The strategy presents us with a unique opportunity to significantly improve the mental health of our population by developing and improving key services and by investing in prevention and early
intervention.


Mental health has been in the shadows for too long. Now is the time for us to establish parity between mental health and physical health.”


Siobhan O’Neill is a Professor of Mental Health Sciences at Ulster University, and the Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland. Her research programmes focus on trauma, mental illness and suicidal behaviour in Northern Ireland, and the transgenerational transmission of trauma. In her role, Professor O’Neill is focused on improving the mental health of the people here by promoting evidence-based services and care for those who suffer from mental illness and suicidal thoughts.

*Bunting et al. (2020). The mental health of children and parents in Northern Ireland.
http://www.hscboard.hscni.net/our-work/social-care-and-children/youth-wellbeing-prevalence-survey-2020/

Try reading this Christmas to support your mental health

Reading has been found to be hugely beneficial to our mental health. Reading a book can be one of life’s greatest joys and can also be a way of coping with the difficult times in life, like loneliness or bereavement.

According to research from Oxford University Press, reading ‘challenging language’ sends ‘rocket boosters’ to our brains, which in turn boosts mental health. ‘Books can take you to a different place. They can relax you and calm you, and they can offer wisdom, or humour, or both.’

Sydney Timmins is a writer and founder of the Mental Health Book Club podcast. Here are her top eight mental health benefits of reading:

1. Reading is pleasurable

When you start to read a really good book it is often hard to put it down, the story captivates you and time disappears as you become absorbed. When you reach the end, you feel sad because it is over, or you are so eager to get the next book in the series you are emailing the author daily! It is a magical feeling and choosing to read a book can provide a number of other benefits.

2. Reading can reduce stress

Losing yourself in a good book has been shown to reduce your levels of stress. Research by Dr David Lewis showed that reading as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by 60% by reducing your heart rate, easing muscle tension and altering your state of mind. That same study showed that reading was better at reducing stress than music, drinking a cup of tea, going for a walk and playing video games.

3. Reading can provide an escape from the ‘real world’

Closely linked to reducing stress levels when you read is the ability to escape from the real world. I did this a lot as a child as a coping mechanism to dealing with the emotional hurt I experienced from my family. I often become immersed in that world and helped me to forget my worries.

4. Reading helps you develop empathy for others

People who read fiction have been shown to improve their level of empathy, the ability to understand someone else’s belief’s, feelings and thoughts.

5. Reading works your brain and prevents memory loss

Participating in cognitive activities, such as reading over your life time (both early and later in life) was shown to slow down memory loss when compared to those who didn’t participate in mentally stimulating activities. The same study also found that the rate of mental decline was reduced by 32% when people participated in reading, writing and other activities later on in life. While those with infrequent stimulating activity found that their decline was 48% faster than those with average activity.

6. Reading groups help to treat mental health issues

My default for when I’m feeling low is to read but there is actually scientific research that shows that reading and then talking about what you have read could be beneficial to mental health and well-being. There is something called bibliotherapy and it has a profound effect on people suffering with depression.

7. Reading helps teenagers develop insights into being an adult

Becoming an adult can be tricky – a lot of things change during this time and exploring self-identity is crucial. Research has shown that reading for pleasure in teenagers has three key benefits, reading was shown to enhance academic performance, social engagement and personal development. Fiction helped teens by providing significant insights into mature relationships, personal values and cultural identity all of which are important in the transition from being a child to becoming an adult.

8. Reading can make you smarter

I often feel smarter after reading books, I learn new things, experience different cultures, understand myself better and research has shown that reading does in fact make us smarter. Cognitive differences have been seen between those who read a lot and those who read a little. People who are exposed to more written information are associated with higher vocabulary, general knowledge, and verbal skills.

You can follow Sydney Timmins on Twitter, and listen to the Mental Health Book Club podcast on their website.

Coping with Bereavement at Christmas

The Christmas focus on family and friends can be especially hard for those of us dealing with the loss of a loved one.

Bereavement in ‘normal’ times can feel overwhelming, but with the stark reality of the ongoing pandemic, losing someone to Covid-19 might feel particularly poignant.

But there are things that can be done to help you negotiate this period – when you may feel like you’re the only one not enjoying the season’s usual festive cheer.

Action Mental Health’s friends at Cruse have provided a very useful guide to help people wade through the festive period, if it’s tainted by bereavement, whether recent or even many years ago.

How to cope with grief at Christmas – by Cruse Bereavement Care (source: Covid Wellbeing NI)

We know that facing Christmas alone, or whilst grieving, can be a daunting prospect. This year, the second Christmas since the onset of Covid-19 and the continuing uncertainty the pandemic has brought, means this festive season could be considerably more difficult. Whether you were bereaved since the start of the pandemic or many years before, residual Covid restrictions could still place obstacles in the way of getting together with friends and family and people in your support network. The latest Omicron variant of the virus has potentially added another layer of concerns at a time when people hoped Christmas 2021 would be much easier than last year. As a result, it is going to be more important than ever to try and look after yourself and work out the best ways to cope.

Here are some practical ways to cope with the loss of a loved one over Christmas.

1. Consider different ways of celebrating

One of the things that can help can be to spend some time trying to work out, well in advance, which arrangements will best suit your needs and the needs of others who share your loss. Some bereaved people find that they do not wish to celebrate Christmas at all, whilst some find that simply maintaining their routine and celebrating as normal is the best tribute they can pay their loved one. It may feel important to make a special effort to remember the person who has died. This can be as simple as ‘speaking’ to the person, silently or out loud, or it may involve visiting their grave, or a place that was special to them. These can be things that we do alone, or with friends or family. You may have photos or particular memories which you treasure; sharing these with others may be something that brings you together.

2. Accept that others may have different ways of mourning

We know that people remember and mourn in different ways. Conflict within a family can sometimes arise when we have expectations of how others should grieve, so try to be sensitive to others’ needs, and to talk openly about what will be best for you.

3. Try to maintain a routine

The Christmas period may mean that your normal routine is disrupted, and this can make it easier to forget to look after yourself. Maintaining regular patterns of sleeping and eating are small things that can make a difference. Seeing friends or family, or even volunteering for the day, can also help.

4. Go easy on the drink

It’s tempting to drink more on festive occasions, and it can feel like a drink might help numb any difficult feelings. But it’s important to remember that using alcohol to escape the pain of loss provides only very temporary relief. If you find you’re relying heavily on drinking alcohol, consider taking some drink free days. You can also find advice from Drink Aware on how to reduce your alcohol consumption.

5. Remember the happy times

Even many years after someone dies Christmas can be a difficult, intensely emotional time when we need to look after ourselves and those around us. But as time passes, special occasions like Christmas can help us remember happy memories of good times shared in the past. 

6. Skip the Christmas films

It can be tough when you are bombarded by images of people enjoying happy family times. If it’s getting too much, consider taking a break from the Christmas TV and social media and maybe take a walk or get some fresh air in any way you can.

7. Talk to someone

If you’re struggling to deal with the grieving process over Christmas, you can call the Cruse National Helpline on 0808 808 1677, see here for opening hours. Alternatively you can message a trained grief counsellor using our CruseChat service 9am – 9pm Monday – Friday.