'Nearly half' men down at Christmas
Far from experiencing peace and goodwill at Christmas, nearly half of men admit to feeling sad or depressed over the festive season, a study by the Samaritans has revealed.
An online survey carried out by the charity discovered 48% of men say they are sad or depressed at Christmas time.
Of the 140 interviewed, around 45% of men say they feel more worried over the festive season than at any time of year, 37% admit to feeling lonely and 30% are stressed and anxious.
For many men, their sadness is increased by the expectation that everyone should have a good time, with 45% complaining they feel pressure from others to be happy when they not.
Nigel, a volunteer in one of the Samaritan's 201 branches, said the charity was already starting to take calls from people feeling under pressure in the run up to Christmas.
He said: "Christmas can be a poignant time, bringing issues people face all year round to the surface, and can leave those normally strong enough to cope, struggling to do so.
"I listen to people telling me that they're alone, or that they've recently lost their partner, or that they're in huge amounts of debt.
"And it's even harder to deal with because it's Christmas, and the expectation that everyone is having a good time. It's so important that we're able to help these people through the festive season."
Men in the UK are three times more likely than women to take their own lives, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.
Men are also much less likely than women to feel positively about counselling or therapy, and are more likely to turn to it as a last resort.
Last year, Samaritans received around 244,000 calls during the Christmas period from people suffering distress in the UK and Ireland.
This year the charity is encouraging men feeling anxious or suicidal to speak to one of their volunteers over the festive period.
Chief executive Catherine Johnstone said: "Many of our male callers have told us that Christmas is a tough time for them, which is why our inspirational volunteers will be available round the clock, for anyone who is struggling to cope, including on Christmas Day."