A NEW mental health website has been launched in the North-East for residents who are not looking forward to a happy Christmas.

It follows a big increase in the number of North-East people viewing suicide support webpages.

Staff and volunteers at Mental Health North East (MHNE) worked around the clock to ensure the website – mhne.org.uk - was ready for the festive period.

A spokesman for MHNE said the charity has seen a 236 per cent increase in the number of people viewing their suicide support webpages and a similar increase in the number of calls from distressed local people.

The spokesman said people in need can now find a whole range of useful information on the MHNE website, including emergency response numbers, practical advice and alternative activities including Christmas lunches, some of which are free.

The special Christmas mental health website has been made possible through financial support from Durham Police.

Ron Hogg, Durham Police and Crime Commissioner said: “I fully support the valuable work of Mental Health North East (MHNE) and this year have given funding for web developments and IT systems to help improve their online presence. I look forward to continuing that support in 2014.”

The new website includes telephone helpline numbers for If U Care Share, a North-East organisation which promotes emotional well-being in young people and supports families affected by suicide (0191 387 5661) and Mind (0300 123393).