We end up in a situation where we all have some experience of mental health, either personal or friends or family, yet none of us are talking about it. When we don't talk and share information we breed ignorance and suspicion, which only makes things harder. The research also shows that opening up about mental health, sharing what you are going through and seeking appropriate support is the critical first step in taking control of the condition and preventing it developing further, by keeping things to ourselves we make recovery harder.
To try and change the situation described above Time To Change, one of the UK's leading mental health charities, has launched Time To Talk day - an awareness day that is focused on getting everyone talking about mental health. By doing so we break down the stigma, increase understanding and help those struggling get the support they need.
I encourage all of you to join in. All you need to do is take a few minutes out in your day to sit down with a colleague and ask how they are feeling, call a friend for a catch up or message a family member to see how they are doing. These conversations don't have to be scary, simply give someone the opportunity to open up to you. Ask how they are doing and dig beyond the automatic 'fine' response. If you're stuck for ideas download the conversation starter from Time to Change using the link below or take it in turns to ask some of the following questions:
- What does emotional wellbeing mean to you?
- What was the last challenge you overcame?
- What makes you feel like crying?
- What makes a great day for you?
- What makes a tough day?
- How do you relax?
- What makes it difficult for you to relax?
You can find out more about the day and download loads of useful resources by visiting the Time to Change website. If you want to find out more about different mental health conditions then have a look at the NHS choices pages on this. And finally, if thinking about this has brought anything to the surface then don't be afraid to speak to someone about it. The Samaritans is a great place to start (116 123).
Remember that conversations can change lives, join in with Time to Talk day tomorrow and you could help someone, or yourself, take the first step to a happier future.