Time To Talk Day
Our timing may be a week out, but 1st February is the annual awareness day for beginning a conversation about mental health.
It’s run by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness and in partnership with the Co-Op.
It’s not always easy to start these sorts of conversations but the results can be powerful enough to change lives.
It could be that you’re worried about a friend, relative or work colleague, who may not seem their usual self. Try to find a way to approach the subject with them and see if they are willing to talk about their issues with you.
Or you may be that person that needs help, or at the very least, would like to tell someone that you’re struggling. They may not realise you’re unhappy but try and find someone who you can talk to – just telling that person how you feel can be very helpful and is a great first step in being able to improve your situation.
Many of us lead busy lives and unwittingly become a little selfish as we only think about ourselves, so take five minutes to think about the people around you and see if you think they may need help.
It may just be a chat, to get things off their chest or something deeper. That person probably feels alone and overwhelmed and may not be thinking logically, and therefore not seeking help. If you can point them in the right direction to get the type of help they may need for their particular problem that could be a massive help.
Don’t just suggest where to get the help, help them make an appointment and go with them if they want you to. Check in on them regularly to make sure they’re OK.
The following tips are from the Time to Talk Day website, www.timetotalkday.co.uk
Tips for talking
There's no right or wrong way to talk about mental health. But these tips can help make sure you’re approaching the conversation in a helpful way.
Ask questions and listen
Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. And it can help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgmental. For example, “how does that affect you?” or “what does it feel like?”
Think about the time and place
Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. If you do talk in person, you might want to chat while doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. But don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off!
Don't try and fix it
It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time. Try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey. They’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.
Treat them the same
When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. When a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want you to treat them any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.
No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk may make it easier for them to open up another time.
They are several places to go for help; we regularly donate to Mind and they have a great website (www.mind.org.uk ) which has tips and can signpost you to the most appropriate help.
1st February may be the Annual Awareness Day organised to get people talking, but it’s not restricted to just one day.
People need help any day, maybe every day, so it’s never too late to start a conversation with someone, whether you want help or whether you need help.
Remember it will probably be difficult for the person to open up, so be patient and let them set the pace. It won’t be a quick fix but it could be the start of an amazing journey for someone.