More than half of people in Northern Ireland (56%) have worried this year about debt and money, according to a survey we at Samaritans carried out in conjunction with YouGov, with 18% of people describing 2009 as a bad year or their worst year ever.
The poll - of more than 2,000 people across the UK - asked the public to identify their five biggest worries over the past year. After money, other top-five sources of anxiety for people in the province were problems in relationships with family and friends (reported by 42% of people) and workplace stress (38%), followed by fears over their ability to cope emotionally (36%) and concerns about their physical health (33%).
Other key findings were:
* Top worries in Northern Ireland also included fears over job security (32%), concerns about appearance or ageing (27%), mortgages, rent or housing (23%) and loneliness (21%).
* People here are much more worried about domestic politics (22%) and world affairs (22%) than about what is happening in their own neighbourhood (1%).
* Less than half the number of people in Northern Ireland (2%) worry about sport and how their favourite team is doing, compared with 5% of people across the UK and 10% of Scots.
* Only 3% in Northern Ireland said they weren't worriers, or didn't have anything to worry about, compared with the UK average of 7% and 14% of Welsh people.
* While 18% of people described 2009 as a bad year, 18% also said 2009 was a good year; 40% thought the year had been both good and bad, featuring ups and downs.
In the last year Samaritans received nearly 160,000 calls and many of them about the worries identified in the survey, with approximately one in every 10 calls linked to financial stress.
If people don't talk about their problems they can build up over time and spiral into more serious emotional distress. Sharing your troubles can be a huge relief and is often the first step to finding a way of coping with the challenges that life throws at all of us.
Samaritans' trained volunteers are available 24/7 to offer confidential support to anyone feeling anxious, unhappy or distressed this Christmas and throughout the coming year.
Many people feel reluctant to talk, perhaps because they are embarrassed or don't want to be a burden. But hiding your feelings can result in stress building up to boiling-point where it becomes much more difficult to manage. If you feel there is no one you can talk to, this is where Samaritans can help.
Our volunteers are on call and available round-the-clock all year round. Our national helpline is 08457 90 90 90, or we can be contacted at email@example.com
We at Samaritans appreciate that many people feel more comfortable speaking face-to-face to a volunteer and our centres are open during the day and evenings, details can be found by contacting our branches in Belfast, Bangor, Newry, Craigavon, Omagh, Derry, Coleraine and Ballymena.
Christmas is a stressful time and this year is likely to be even more so for many people. One of the great parts of our service is the art of listening to those in emotional distress.
In these hectic times, it is often difficult for people to get a caring, non-judgmental listening ear.
Samaritans will not let you down if you need us.