02 Feb 2023
by Laura Cieplak

Time to Talk Day is a chance for family and friends, communities, and workplaces to come together to listen to each other and talk about their mental health.

Each year, one in four people will experience a mental health problem. Depression, one of the most common mental illnesses, affects an estimated 300 million people worldwide.

Having a conversation about mental health can help yourself and others and has the power to change lives. It can help create a supportive environment which can empower others to seek help when they need it.

Many people do not feel comfortable talking about mental health. They may fear judgement or a lack of understanding or being misunderstood. In the workplace they may feel it might affect their job security or career chances.

The stigma surrounding mental health problems can be as damaging, (or even more damaging) than the symptoms of the mental health problem. Believing it’s a personal failure or thinking you are different to everyone else can be isolating and lonely. Expressing your feelings can change personal attitudes and improve mental wellness.

Time to Talk Day hopes to encourage acceptance and understanding to create a positive experience surrounding these conversations.

What can you do for Time to Talk Day?

Check in with a friend, colleague or family member while relaxing, socialising or sharing an activity you enjoy. Catch up online while gaming or have a movie night.

In the workplace organise a group lunch or a learning session on mental wellness. Walk and talk sessions are proven to be beneficial and can help make talking about mental health less intimidating. Think about bringing up the subject in the car, when participants don’t have to look at one another. But do it safely if driving.

Time to Talk Day presents an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their commitment to changing the way people think about mental health in the workplace and normalising conversations. Online you can share and read about personal experiences of mental health problems, which helps change attitudes towards mental health. Time to Talk Day is also a prompt to introduce young people to conversations on mental health.

Tips for talking about mental health:

  • Understand that some people may not be ready to talk about their mental health at all. Don’t push it.
  • Understand that some people may not want to talk to a relative, friend, or colleague about their mental health: they may feel it’s more appropriate and helpful to talk to a professional.
  • If you are seriously concerned about someone’s mental wellbeing, provide them with appropriate resources to access; in particular numbers to call, like the Samaritans.
  • Ask open questions and listen to the answers.
  • Allow someone to lead the discussion at their own pace. Be patient and let them direct the conversation.
  • Be an encouraging listener but try not to interrupt. Leave questions until there is a natural gap in the conversation.
  • Don’t talk about yourself and your own experiences at length.
  • Try to resist offering advice unless asked for. And understand that what may be a solution for one person may not work for everyone.
  • Talk about self-care: discuss ways they can prioritise their own mental and physical wellbeing. Be realistic about what they can do in their lives.
  • Stay calm and do not overreact.
  • Do not be judgemental.
  • Treat people with mental health issues the same as everyone else. Be understanding, but don’t patronise.
  • Know your limits. Recognise your capacity for the time, support and emotional energy you can give.

Many with lived experiences of mental health problems have spoken about small gestures and conversations that have made a big difference helping them open up and get help.

Many people struggle in silence and feel unable to speak out. Make space in your day for a conversation about mental health on Time to Talk Day on 2 February 2023.

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