Help is at hand in a time of loneliness and distress

THE festive season can be a sad and stressful time for many, but experts say people can always reach out to someone who cares.

Lifeline Tasmania general manager Christine Kettleton said the sight of Christmas trees, tinsel, bright lights and families out having fun could drive home feelings of isolation and depression.

"We're seeing a lot of issues around loneliness, depression and disconnect from the community," she said.

"People might have nothing to do during the festive season, or nobody to share it with. This time of year definitely doesn't bring the same joy to everyone."

Ms Kettleton said that excessive credit card spending on extravagant gifts could lead to a very unhappy festive season.

"A lot of people overspend at Christmas and are often in dire financial straits by the time their first bill comes in January," she said.

"There's no need for people to put that kind of pressure on themselves."

MensLine Australia general manager Randal Newton-John said there was always an increase in calls to the service during the festive season.

The men's counselling service is expecting to receive more than 8000 calls in the coming weeks.

"This time of year forces men to reflect on their role as a father and whether they're doing a good job," he said.

"For men whose family has fallen apart, it can be a time of acute loneliness and even distress as they compare this season to happier years."

Mr Newton-John said a large percentage of men reaching out to the service were going through a marriage separation.

"It can be a difficult time, but the way men father their children over the long term matters much more than whether they see them on Christmas or New Year," he said.

"As much as things can be painful, do try and put things in perspective as much as you can. If someone is going through a rough patch and they don't have anyone to talk to, there is never a bad time to pick up the phone."

•If you need help or counselling, contact Lifelink Samaritans 1300364566, Lifeline 131114, Kids Helpline 1800551800, MensLine Australia 1300789978, or the StandBy Response Service 0408133884.

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