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Sunday, 10 December, 2000, 23:29 GMT
One in five 'stressed over Christmas'
Young men are being encouraged to talk about their problems
Men are being targeted by a Christmas campaign
The Samaritans estimate they will receive three calls per minute this Christmas, after a poll found one in five of us are stressed or anxious about the festive season.

A Mori poll, launched by the Samaritans on Monday, found one in three people had negative thoughts about Christmas, feeling depressed, alone or angry.

The survey, of over 2,000 people, also found one in 10 people hated Christmas.

The Samaritans are also launching the Bloke's Own Paper, a comic taking a light-hearted look at men's problems, in a bid to encourage young men in particular to ask for help when they need it.

In the Mori poll, 7% said they felt depressed over the festive season.

Christmas blues
32% have negative feelings
22% find it a source of anxiety
7% feel depressed
38% of women felt negative, compared to 27% of men
Half love Christmas, one in 10 hate it

People who have been widowed, divorced or separated are most likely to feel down, the survey suggested.

They are also twice as likely to feel depressed compared to the average population.

Because of the pressure people feel at this time of year, the Samaritans is expecting a 10% rise over the average number of calls in the Christmas week - meaning they are set to receive three calls a minute.

Last year, 3,700 people called the Samaritans on Christmas Day.

Help for young men

The charity said they were targeting young men because they often found it hardest to speak out.

Men under 35 are five times more likely to commit suicide than women in the same age group. The number who self-harm or attempt suicide has doubled over the last decade.

Simon Armson, chief executive of the Samaritans, said: "People expect men to be strong and cope with problems on their own.

"But the reality is that blokes, like everybody else, can feel stressed, anxious, angry and inadequate.

"The tragedy is that so many young men don't use helplines when they need to talk, particularly at Christmas time when feelings of stress and depression can become overwhelming."

The Bloke's Own Paper; a Samaritans' guide
The Bloke's Own Paper: A Samaritans' guide

A spokeswoman for the Samaritans added they had changed their approach.

"Before, we have been in danger of putting people off asking for help because they see the Samaritans as all about suicide and having depression.

"We want them to realise that it's a positive thing that we do. We help people to cope."

She added that the survey, the first one they have carried out into people's feelings about Christmas, after annual campaigns to raise awareness of the service they provide.

"We decided to find out how many people felt negatively this Christmas and how many had feelings of anxiety and felt depressed that was brought on by Christmas."

The Samaritans national helpline number is 08457 90 90 90.

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See also:

09 Oct 00 | Scotland
Alarming rise in suicide rate
19 May 00 | Health
Teenage self-harm 'soars'
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