Time to Talk Day is organised by Time to Change, the campaign to change how we all think and act about mental health problems. The day aims to make us feel more comfortable talking to each other about mental health. No one should have to fear being treated differently because of a mental health problem.
Research published by the campaign indicates 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year, but many of us are too afraid to talk about it. It seems fear of negative reactions, stigma and discrimination are still barriers, which can prevent asking for social support and accessing life changing professional help.
Checking in on your family, friends and colleagues during the current coronavirus pandemic is more important than ever.
This year, the Time to Talk campaign is encouraging us all to follow their three top tips when supporting someone who may be feeling anxious or worried:
1. Check in
If someone doesn’t feel ready to meet face-to-face, then picking up the phone, having a video call, starting a group chat or messaging someone on social media lets them know you are there to talk and ready to listen.
2. Listen and reflect
Whether you have a mental health problem or not, this is a challenging time for our mental health and wellbeing. If someone opens up to you, remember you don’t need to fix things or offer advice – often just listening, and showing you take them seriously, can help someone to manage.
3. Ask questions
Ask how people are managing, and ask again if you’re worried they aren’t sharing the full picture. Asking again, with interest, can help someone to open up and explore what they’re feeling.
When we interact with those around us in a more meaningful way, we start to discover how common mental health challenges can be in the population. This new-found awareness brings a tangible comfort to those who may be experiencing mental health concerns. It can be reassuring to know we are not alone in struggling to cope with mental health symptoms. We may also find by chatting with colleagues, neighbours and closer contacts that social interaction is good for both the talker and the listener. This is evidenced by research from organisations, such as Campaign to End Loneliness, which indicates the benefits to physical and mental health from feeling socially connected and the dangers to our wellbeing when we become socially isolated.