With 1 in 4 of us in the UK experiencing a mental health issue in any given year, it’s time we opened up the conversation to breakdown stereotypes and help end the stigma. Today is ‘Time to Talk Day’, launched by the ‘Time to Change’ mental health movement, the day aims to encourage everyone to break the ice and have the conversation about mental health. Whether it’s a conversation over a cup of tea with a friend, a planned activity in the workplace or community, or a one-to-one session with a colleague, opening up about mental health has never been more crucial.
The first step to starting the conversation is recognising and understanding the nature of mental health and what we mean by a mental health condition. Mental health conditions can manifest themselves in many ways and can affect everyone differently. Examples of mental health conditions include anxiety and panic attacks, Bipolar Disorder (BPD), Depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Obsessive Compulsive Order (OCD). These conditions not only have a huge impact on yours or someone else’s personal life, they can also make work very difficult.
It is not always easy to tell if someone is suffering from a mental health issue and it’s not always easy to recognise it in ourselves. However, there are several symptoms that can be attributed to a mental health condition including withdrawal from friends or family, extreme mood swings, excessive fears and worries, low mood and energy and a reduced ability to concentrate. Although these signs may not necessarily be diagnosed as a mental health issue, it is still important to open up the conversation about your own wellbeing or the wellbeing of someone you are concerned about.
For many people, feeling like they can’t speak out about how they feel stops them from seeking the support that they need, which is why Time to Talk Day aims to break down those barriers and encourage everyone to start a conversation. Many people stay silent in fear of discrimination, being judged or feeling ashamed. However, taking time out to connect with colleagues, friends or people in the community may just be the support you or someone else needs. It’s important to remember, you don’t have to speak to or be an expert to make a change.
Keeping up at work can be a challenge when you feel unwell and many of us say we are fine when we’re not, which is why ‘Time to Talk’ encourage the ‘ask twice’ technique – if someone you know doesn’t seem themselves, ask them twice how they are. Similarly, if you aren’t feeling yourself and someone asks you twice if you are ok, they are asking because they genuinely care for you wellbeing, so telling the truth could be the one conversation that puts you on the road to better mental health.
To get involved further, why not plan activities at your workplace or within your community, from hosting a coffee morning to arranging a community gathering. You can download a Time to Talk Day guide, full of conversation packs to help get you started. Click here for the full list of downloads.
To find out more about ‘Time to Change’ movement and the ‘Time to Talk’ campaign, head to the website by clicking here.
If you or someone you know is experiencing mental health problems, below are several organisations that offer mental health support.
116 123 (24 hours a day, free to call)
0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday)
Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line
0300 5000 927 (9.30am-4pm Monday to Friday)
0300 304 7000 (4.30pm-10.30pm)