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NHS's annual mental health report reveals over 3 million people in England were in contact with secondary mental health, learning disabilities and autism services at some point during the financial year 2021-22. 

With 992,647 of those people under 18 years of age, this is a 16.2% increase from the previous year. 

Martin Preston, Founder and Chief Executive at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere has shared seven key ways one can safeguard their mental health during the festive season. 

  1. Prioritise time for yourself  

With work Christmas parties and festive family gatherings soon to be in full swing, it can be quite difficult to make time for yourself. 

As lovely as catching up with friends and family can be, constantly being surrounded by people may lead to feeling socially drained - especially if they've got any personal issues they are dealing with. 

Therefore, it is important to strike a balance and ensure you are still allocating yourself some solid 'me time' in the midst of all the festive fun. 

  1. Immerse yourself in arts and crafts 

From reducing stress levels to easing anxious thoughts, engaging in arts and crafts can have very positive effects on your mental health

During the festive season, perhaps try making some festive DIY Christmas decorations to feature in your home. As well as the mental benefits this provides, you'll also be saved from spending your money on store-bought decorations. 

  1. Take time out from social media 

During the festive season, it's common for people to post about what they're up to. For individuals that are spending Christmas alone, or perhaps mourning the loss of a relative, seeing the upbeat festive content of others can be especially difficult. 

What's more, many fall into the habit of making comparisons through what they see on social media, and this leads to people not appreciating what they do have. With this in mind, taking a break from social media over Christmas may do wonders for your wellbeing. 

  1. Keep active 

Due to shorter days and dark nights, it can be difficult to find the motivation to stay active. However, keeping fit is very important, especially if you tend to struggle with your mental health over the festive period. Even something as little as going out for a walk in the fresh air everyday will make you feel better. 

  1. Limit alcohol consumption 

Delamere's recent drug and alcohol survey found that one in twelve Brits confessed that they used alcohol to diminish depressing thoughts. As we head into the festive season, it is expected that many people will continue to over-indulge on the booze - but doing this will have a negative impact on your wellbeing. 

This is because heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that regulate mental health. While a drink may relax us, it's important to know that overconsumption of alcohol can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety in the long run. 

  1. Talk to loved ones

Whether they are near or far, always try to confide in loved ones if you are struggling. If the festive season is especially tough for you, make sure your friends and family are aware of this. 

For instance, you could inform them of certain triggers that have a negative impact on your mental health, so they can try their best to help you avoid these this Christmas. By simply voicing your concerns, you'll find that such a weight will be lifted, making you feel like you aren't struggling alone. 

  1. Give back to the community 

The beauty of helping others is that this act of kindness will make you feel good about yourself. From The Salvation Army to various food banks, there are numerous causes you can contribute to over the festive period. It's the season of giving, after all! 



GENEVA (5 December 2022) – UN Special Rapporteur Siobhán Mullally will assess the situation of trafficking in persons during an official visit to South Sudan from 5 to 14 December 2022.

Mullally will examine trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour, child and forced marriage, including among refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees. She will also check risks of trafficking arising from climate-related displacement. The Special Rapporteur will visit Juba, Bentiu and Nimule and will meet representatives of Government, law enforcement, UN officials, civil society and survivors of trafficking in persons.

Mullally will hold a press conference to share preliminary observations on Wednesday 14 December at 11:00am at UNDP Compound, Plot 21, Ministries Road, Juba. Access will be strictly limited to journalists.

The Special Rapporteur will present a full report on the country visit to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2023. - United Nations


Former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta has implored on Congolese citizens meeting with him in Nairobi for the third Inter-Congolese dialogue this week to embrace forgiveness as the search for lasting peace in the eastern parts of the country continues.

Mr Kenyatta is leading the East African Community-led Nairobi Peace Process talks that have brought together armed groups, civil society groups, women and youth groups, survivors of the conflict and government representatives led by Democratic Republic of Congo President Felix Tshisekedi’s Special Envoy Serge Tshibangu.

The groups are represented in Nairobi by about 350 participants, over 50 of whom represent armed groups fighting in eastern DRC.

“Though the pain from the atrocities committed against you may be too much in the last 20 years as lives have been lost, animals stolen and minerals stolen by foreign nations who are happy to spur conflict as they steal your minerals leaving your children unable to go to school and your mothers unable to give birth in hospital, let us embrace a forgiving heart and agree to unite to bring lasting peace to the region,” he said.

Territorial sovereignty

Mr Kenyatta assured the participants that the talks will not delve into discussions over DRC’s territorial sovereignty.

“The Republic of DRC belongs to the Congolese and we are not here to discuss how an inch of your territory shall be cut off. Ours (the Nairobi Process) is to find ways you can co-exist with one another and resolve conflicts that arise between you without taking arms against one another,” he said.

The Luanda process that is closely inter-linked with the Nairobi process is attempting to resolve external conflict between DRC and Rwanda.

“We believe we shall find solutions from both processes so that you can live in peace at home, refugees and internally displaced persons can go back to their home and that all arms in the hands of armed groups shall be silenced and surrendered to the government,” Mr Kenyatta said.

In the last Luanda meeting held last week, EAC member states ordered M23 and other foreign groups operating in eastern DRC to ease hostilities, lay down their arms and leave the country unconditionally.

Conditions for M23

The M23 was particularly asked to leave Banagana, Rutshuru and Kiwanja but they are yet to do so and that is why they are not part of the armed groups attending the Nairobi peace process.

“Until that is done, the M23 cannot be part of these discussions. The process happening here only involves armed groups that have agreed to lay down their arms and ease hostilities,” said Mr Kenyatta.

But Prof Tshibangu confirmed that about six percent of the M23 group has shown up in Nairobi and reiterated that the Congolese government will not negotiate with groups that have deliberately declined to take part in the process.

“There will be no amnesty for these people. There will be no forum for us to discuss with foreign armed groups. They should lay down their arms and go to their homes. There shall be no negotiations with them; military action shall be deployed against them,” he said.

Absorb ex-combatants

He added that DRC has plans to absorb other ex-combatants into the army known by its French acronym FARDC after the due recruitment process has been followed.

“The amnesty will however not be automatic to all armed groups that lay down their arms as some will have to go through the transitional justice process and be held accountable for their atrocities,” he said.

The dialogues are meant to create mechanisms for bringing back peace in eastern DRC where more than 120 armed groups are fighting.

They kicked off on Monday with a resolution by EAC heads of state to deploy troops against armed groups that defy calls to ease hostilities, create channels for voluntary repatriation of IDPs and refugees hosted in neighbouring countries in addition to a call for the unconditional departure of foreign armed groups from DRC territories. - MARY WAMBUI, The EastAfrican

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