12:54 Friday 27 December 2013

Mental health charity Changes helps those with issues overcome problems during festive period

Written byMARK MCKAY

For those who struggle with depression, anxiety or isolation the added pressures of Christmas and New Year might seem like too much to bear.

But help is at hand for anyone who feels like the festive period has pushed them to the limit.

The mental health charity Changes, in Branston Road, Burton, provides a chance for anyone who suffers from mental distress to move from isolation and dependency to a contributing member of the wider community.

The charity’s East Staffordshire manager Lisa Allon-Dale said the number of people seeking help in the build up to Christmas and New Year can increase by as much as 30 per cent.

She told the Mail: “There’s definitely a upsurge in people using the service from October when people start to think about Christmas and the New Year.

“People can be overwhelmed with everything at home because it’s a stressful time for the majority of people.

“But for people with mental health problems who might be isolated or on their own it’s a worrying time.

“They might have a lack of money which can be a massive problem.

“They might be worrying how they will pay to put food on the table and buy their children presents.

“Also, when families come together there can be alcohol issues or domestic abuse issues and people need advice to cope with them.”

While Christmas and New Year is a happy time of year for most people, others who have battled addiction, endured domestic abuse or lost a loved one can find it one of the most testing times of the year.

Ms Allon-Dale said the memory of these events can trigger anxiety and depression in some.

She said: “With some people bad things have happened to them at this time of year so it can trigger a lot of emotions.

“People may have lost a loved one at and we have a lot of families who do not have their children with them so it’s a stressful time for them.

“Changes is somewhere they can come and have that support from like-minded people so they are not on their own.”

But thanks to the recovery-based ‘wellness tools’, which Changes bases it support on, those who use the service can learn to overcome their difficulties.

These tools, which are based on cognitive behavioural therapy, are broken down into 12 steps to help address issues such as self-image, self-esteem and positive thinking.

Ms Allon-Dale said: “That’s the beauty about service, because people use these tools they are able to use them in stressful times to cope better than they would before.

“It can help identify triggers which at Christmas are more evident.

“But because they have to manage these triggers it can help manage unhealthy thoughts and behaviour as well.”

The ‘beauty’ of Changes is that it is entirely user-led, so everyone who helps run the service has used it to overcome their own problems, said, Ms Allon-Dale who has suffered from post-natal depression.

Anyone who would like to find out more about Changes offers can call 01283 500805.

They can also refer themselves to the charity, which operates at 222 Branston Road, Burton

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