Health leaders across Lancashire and South Cumbria are urging people to talk about their money worries and not find themselves in debt this Christmas.
The message comes as part of the latest phase of Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership’s Let’s Keep Talking suicide prevention campaign.
More than 14 million people have seen their income fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while nearly three million people have used high-cost credit cards to make ends meet.
Christmas is a time when many people feel pressure to spend more than they can afford on elaborate gifts and food.
Neil Smith, the Mental Health Multi-Agency Strategic Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership, said: said: “After spending last Christmas in lockdown, you may want to treat your family and friends even more than usual this year, but don’t spend beyond your means.
“Planning, budgeting and keeping an eye on your spending is the best way to have a brilliant time without facing money worries in the New Year.
“Don’t be tempted to buy now and pay later. If 2020 taught us anything, surely, it’s that being together is what matters the most.”
Dealing with money issues can sometimes be off-putting, and many people can feel ashamed. But most debt issues can easily be sorted through the help of organisations such as Citizen’s Advice.
Emma Sylvester, Debt Services Manager at Citizens Advice, said: “If you’re struggling with debt, we want to reassure you: you’re not alone and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You just need to reach out for help.
“Sometimes when people are in debt, they can become so worried about it that they consider taking their own lives.
“But it doesn’t have to be this way. In my role as a debt services manager, I have never said to anyone ‘we can’t help you with that’, there’s always a way.”
Suicide rates across the region are the third highest in England and men are three times more likely to take their life by suicide than women. For more information and help and support about debt and money visit the Lancashire and South Cumbria Health and Care Partnership website.