Xmas still a difficult time for young people: survey

An increasing number of young people are finding increased family tensions over the holiday season difficult to handle, the second annual headspace Christmas survey has revealed.

The survey of 500 young Australians show more than 65 per cent cited 'Tensions between family members' as a factor that made them feel negative about Christmas, up from 58 per cent last year.

Chris Tanti, CEO of the National Youth Mental Health Foundation headspace, said everyone should be mindful that families should be supporting each other over Christmas, rather than letting tensions simmer over into arguments and other disputes.

"This survey clearly shows that many young people approach Christmas with trepidation, rather than excitement," Mr Tanti said.

The survey shows that, for 24 per cent of young people, Christmas made them feel depressed (slightly down from 27 per cent) and for 33 per cent, Christmas made them feel worse than usual.

One positive was that the number of young people who would be happy if Christmas was cancelled was down from 19 per cent last year to 16 per cent this year.

Mr Tanti said the survey sent a message to parents that the wellbeing of young people more vulnerable than they might think.

"The message to parents is clear: at this time of year, young people need more than just presents, they need support," he said.

For the first time, the survey also reveals just how much young people are turning to social media at Christmas to connect with loved ones, and also deal with some of the pressures.

More than 86 per cent of young people said they would be using social media on Christmas Day. 62 per cent said they used social media to escape family tensions and 54 per cent said they used it to help them feel less lonely.

"We know about the dangers of social media, but this survey also shows that it's an important tool for coping with difficult situations," Mr Tanti said.

"headspace is committed to providing another avenue of online support through our eheadspace service, which gives young people the option of someone else to talk to over webchat or the telephone."

Confidential 24-hour support four young people can be accessed at eheadspace.org.au