The Wiltshire branch of the Rethink Mental Illness charity is encouraging those struggling with loneliness or depression over the festive period to reach out.

The charity surveyed over a thousand people across the country and found that 77% of people said they feel lonely and isolated even when surrounded by their loved ones during Christmas.

84% of people said they feel symptoms of their mental illness are worse around the festive period.

88% of people said they feel pressured to enjoy or put on a pretence during Christmas.

This feeling of disconnection can cause symptoms of mental illness to be heightened.

Jonathan Baker, a digital officer at Rethink Mental Illness Wiltshire said: “We’ve often recognised in the past that Christmas can be quite a significant difficulty for some people.

“There are a lot of people enjoying themselves, connecting with people and coming together.

“If you’re already lonely or isolated due to your mental health, it can put a huge spotlight on that and cause a lot of issues.

“There is an expectation to be happy but if you’re suffering with your mental health, you may not feel that.”

Councillor Ian Blair-Pilling, cabinet member for Public Health at Wiltshire Council, said: “We know the festive season can be difficult for some people who may experience loneliness or other mental health issues.

“It’s important that we all look after our wellbeing and there is lots of support available or people you can talk to if you are feeling down and would just appreciate a chat.

“We hope everyone has a great time over the festive period, but if you are struggling, please do consider reaching out, support services won’t judge and are there to help everyone.”

Anyone struggling can get in touch with Rethink Mental Illness Wiltshire by calling 07467 764171 or emailing

The service is jointly funded by Wiltshire Council and the Wiltshire Commissioning Group.

There is also free and confidential text message support available in the county that can be accessed by texting WILTS to 85258.

Volunteers can listen and are trained to help with anxiety and stress, depression or sadness, suicidal thoughts, self-harm, panic attacks, loneliness or isolation, abuse and bullying.

These volunteers can point you in the right direction of other local support if necessary.

If your life is at imminent risk, please call 999 for immediate help.