We all have mental health and we should all be able to talk about it in the same way that we talk about our physical health. Time to Talk Day is all about starting that conversation and opening up to each-other about our mental health and how we are feeling. Doing so is not always an easy thing to do as it can be quite a sensitive topic for some people and the stigma surrounding mental health can prevent people from opening up. Lessening the stigma, breaking down the barriers, and letting people know that it is ok not to be ok is very important to us as a mental health charity. With the help of Time to Talk Day, we can all help to raise awareness and provide a listening ear to someone who may be struggling mentally and help change their lives.
There is no set way to start a conversation about mental health, but there are a few things that you can do to make it feel less awkward and more comfortable for all involved.
When starting a conversation with someone, it is always a good idea to choose a place that feels natural so you can both relax and not worry about your surroundings.
This may vary from person to person but some examples are:
• Whilst out for a jog or walk
• Eating breakfast or lunch at a café
• Sitting on a park bench
• During a long drive
• A quiet room with a cup of tea or coffee
As long as the setting is comfortable for both people and you are at ease, the conversation will feel more relaxed and natural. Remember that it doesn’t always have to be face to face, you could send someone an email or text message to ask them how they are feeling. Some people may find this easier than face to face and open up more. Once you have started the conversation in this way you could then arrange to meet up somewhere or have a chat over the phone.
A lot of the time when you ask people “are you ok?” they will respond naturally with “I’m fine, thanks.” This is a natural response, as most of the time people think that you are just being polite. In this situation ask twice “are your sure everything is ok?” Even if the person doesn’t open up at that time, they know that you are there to listen.
Sharing your thoughts and feelings about your own experiences with mental health can go a long way to reassuring someone and get them to talk about their own mental health. Even if you don’t have any personal experience with mental health, you can still discuss how you deal with things when you are feeling low and down. Doing so will show that you are comfortable with talking about emotions and feelings, making the other person feel more comfortable talking about their own.
If you know that someone has previously experienced mental health difficulties, you can always ask how they are doing now. Maybe you have noticed a change in them recently and they are acting differently to their normal selves. It is ok to address this, try starting the conversation with “I’ve noticed you are a bit quiet lately, are you feeling ok?”, “If you want to talk about anything I’m here to listen.” This can show that you care about them and that you willing to listen when they are ready to talk. For more information about Time to Talk Day please visit the Time to Talk Website where you will find lots more information about starting a conversation with someone. There are also downloadable resources and ideas of things you can do in your workplace, school or even on your own on Time to Talk day to help raise awareness and encourage others to talk too.
This year, we will be working closely with one of our charity partners, Intu Merry Hill, helping to provide a safe space for customers and staff within the shopping centre called ‘Chatty Chairs’. All are welcome to come along and chat to us and members of staff from Merry Hill who will be helping out on the day to provide a listening ear, provide useful information and to signpost people towards where to find the support they need for their mental health.
The Mind Hub
Bushey Fields Hospital
Bushey Fields Road