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New year blues

New Year's Day topped Samaritans calls for support across the festive season. On 1 January 2007, a total of 5,350 calls were made to the Samaritans' national UK number of 08457 90 90 90.

These were calls made to the national number only - at least as many again would have been made to the Samaritans' 202 branches around the UK and Ireland on their own direct local phone numbers.

The calls made to the Samaritans' national number on 31 December 2006 - New Year's Eve - totalled 4,376. This shows that, as anticipated, there was an 18% rise in calls on New Year's Day.

New Year's Eve still holds for many an air of optimism, and of course people are enjoying themselves with friends. The cold darkness of the first day of January begins to bring a change to the nature of calls, though. People find themselves alone again after festivities and this often brings home the realisation that problems put away for the fun are still there to be faced up to, that financial issues piled up over Christmas now have to be resolved, and that anxieties and stress "put on hold" over the holiday period are all still there. With the return to work, with many more dark days to face before sunlight returns, stress and depression become more prevalent.

The Christmas and Boxing Day National UK Number call totals for this festive season, 2006, were 4,758 and 5,396. As many calls again would have been made directly to Samaritans' local branches. The large rise in calls to the Samaritans on Boxing Day this year is mainly put down to people who were with friends or families on Christmas Day and returned to their own homes, to be alone on Boxing Day. As expected, the nature of most calls to the Samaritans were concerning isolation or loneliness throughout the Christmas period. January and February are the months when the Samaritans receive the most calls from those feeling depressed or down. The third Monday in January - known as Blue Monday - is considered to be the most depressing day of the year and the Samaritans is now in the middle of its Stress Down Day campaign working towards its annual work-related Stress Down Day on 1 February 2007.

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