Pieta House sees an increased number of service users in the winter months, with the long dark days and the increased financial pressures of Christmas among the major reasons why.
Ahead of World Mental Health Day, which takes place tomorrow, October 10, Leigh Kenny, Pieta House Regional Manager for Leinster South said that people should not underestimate the impact that small changes can have on mental health.
She said that the summer months often see the numbers accessing Pieta House facilities decline.
"People are off work or school, they are on holiday; it keeps people preoccupied," she said.
"But at this time of year, shorter days, bad weather and the financial aspect of things like Christmas can all add to the pressure."
Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. We know how important our mental health is and tomorrow, Oct 10th we'll be running the ‘Now We're Talking-Live’ event with @hotpress & @PietaHouse to encourage young people to open up. Join us online using #NowWereTalking pic.twitter.com/C1rDCTjv0x— Lyons Tea (@lyons_tea) October 9, 2019
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a factor too, she said.
"It is very real," Ms Kenny said. "It is very important to be aware of mental health patterns."
She said that colder, shorter days can result in people skipping physical activity or bingeing on junk food, which might result in them feeling worse about themselves. Simple steps, like taking a walk in the fresh air, can make a difference.
Pieta House is encouraging people to support World Mental Health Day this year by taking ’40 seconds of action’ out of their day to show they care about the positive wellbeing of others.
Every 40 seconds someone loses their life to suicide globally and Pieta House is encouraging the public to focus on suicide prevention by spending 40 seconds of their day positively helping someone else.
Ms Kenny said that there are a number of things to do to support positive mental health.
This can include connecting with others and asking for help if needed. Take care of yourself - physically and mentally - and don't forget about things like rest and dealing with stress by writing out an action plan and ticking things off a list.
She said that there are also signs to look out for in others, like people isolating themselves or being disinterested in upcoming events, or negative, hopeless sounding language.
Since 2006, over 48,000 people have been through the Pieta House doors in a state of crisis, and with over 80% of funding coming from the public, support is vital to help continue this lifesaving work.
Pieta House, which started as a small, Dublin-based charity in 2006 with just one centre with four staff, has now expanded to 15 centres employing over 270 therapists and administrative staff nationwide.
To avail of Pieta House services, which are free of charge, please visit pieta.ie for all centre contact details.
Pieta House provides 24/7 support – if you are suicidal, self-harming or bereaved you can contact Pieta House 24/7 via the Freephone helpline on 1800 247 247, you can also text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply).