Time to Talk Day 2021: opening up

Although 2020 was a very strange year, it offered some silver-linings. One of these was an increase in the understanding of just how important our mental health is and the willingness to have more open conversations about the subject.

This is positive progress but there’s still a lot of work to be done. One in four individuals will be affected by an issue this year alone and it’s incredibly sad to hear that over a half of them will say the associated isolation and shame is worth than the condition itself. The social stigma attached to mental health and the discrimination experienced because of it can make the problem worse and recovery that much harder – but there are things we can all do to change this.

Time to Talk Day, an annual event hosted by growing social movement called Time to Change, gives everyone a chance to tackle this silence and shame. Having open conversations about how we’re feeling can help break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery, and take the stigma out of something which will affect each of us at some point during our lives. Nobody should have to fear being treated differently because of a mental health problem.

You can get involved by joining the virtual festival being held on YouTube, starting at 19:00 GMT this evening with a discussion about the power of talking and continuing tomorrow with a short series of webinars (see the schedule here). You can also check the Time to Change website for details on events taking place both online and around the UK, along with resources if you’re interested in planning your own activity.

Perhaps the most important thing you can do though is let people know you’re there to listen if they need someone to support them. There’s no right way to talk about mental health but these tips will guide you in approaching it in a helpful way. My channels are open to anyone who’d like to chat – whether you want to talk amore about this post or would just like to speak to somebody who isn’t going to judge. I can’t say I’ll know how to fix what you’re going through but I can certainly be there for you.

If you’re worried about someone in your life and haven’t heard from them in a while: please don’t hesitate in reaching to them. Send them a private message and ask how they’re doing so they know you’re thinking of them and have your support. We all need somebody to look out for us every once in a while and if your friend is going through a tough time, stepping in and showing them you care could mean more to them than you realise.

Together we’re stronger and can end mental health discrimination.

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Opening up: Time to Talk Day 2019

Even in 2019, there are individuals out there who believe mental health isn’t something to be discussed. That the subject is uncomfortable; or that those experiencing mental ill-health are weak or, even worse, dangerous. These people would prefer it if we didn’t talk about such problems in either private or public and kept them to ourselves.

But it’s attitudes like this which mean too many of us are made to feel embarrassed because of a mental health issue. One in four individuals will be affected this year alone and it’s incredibly sad to hear that over half of them will say the associated isolation and shame is worse than the condition itself. The social stigma attached to mental ill-health and discrimination experienced because of it can make the problem worse, and recovery even harder than it already is.

Attending a Mental Health First-Aider course recently not only helped me to become better equipped to properly support those around me; it also made me realise just how important it is to talk and raise awareness about these subjects. Having conversations about mental health can help break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something which will affect each of us at some point in our lives.

It’s one of the reasons why I’m taking part in this year’s Time to Talk Day, an annual event which encourages everyone to have open discussions. An associated social movement called Time To Change is led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, and these amazing charities quite rightly believe nobody should have to face a mental health problem alone.

As I’ve written before, changing the way we all think about act about mental health is long overdue. Being open to the subject and talking about it frankly doesn’t have to be awkward or tense, and the associated stigma and exclusion will be a thing of the past once everybody realises this. Simply being there for a family member, friend or colleague can make a massive difference to them.

Today is a day for encouraging everyone to have a conversation about mental health. My channels are open to anyone who’d to chat – whether you want talk more about this post, are interested in hearing what the First-Aider course was like, need to hear a friendly voice, or would just like to talk to someone who isn’t going to judge. I can’t say I’ll know how to fix what you’re going through but I can be there with you through it.

It’s time for change. Together we’re stronger, and we can make a difference.

For anyone interested in finding out more about the Mental Health First-Aider course – an experience I found extremely worthwhile and would highly recommend – please visit the MHFA England website.

It’s time to talk

Several blogger-friends have recently opened up to reveal how they’re struggling. I have nothing but respect for them; sharing something so personal can be difficult, and being brave enough to say how you’re feeling requires a lot of courage. Even more so when it’s something that could cause the people, friends and relationships around you to react in an unexpected way.

You see, there are still those out there who believe mental health isn’t something to be discussed. They incorrectly think the subject is threatening and uncomfortable. That those experiencing mental ill-health are weak or even worse, dangerous; a perception fuelled by media stories who portray them as violent perpetrators without much context. These people would prefer we didn’t talk about such problems in either private or public and kept them to ourselves.

It’s negative attitudes like this which mean too many of us are made to feel embarrassed because of a mental health issue. One in four individuals will be affected this year alone and it’s extremely sad that over half of them will say the associated isolation and shame is worse than the condition itself. The social stigma attached to mental ill-health and the discrimination experienced because of it can make the problem worse, and recovery from it even harder than it is already.

It’s 2018 and changing the way we all think about act about mental health is long overdue. Being open to the subject and talking about it frankly doesn’t have to be awkward or tense, and the associated stigma and exclusion will be a thing of the past once everybody realises this. Simply being there for a family member, friend or colleague can make a huge difference: your attitude towards mental health could change their life.

To the friends and bloggers who have shared their stories recently: thank you for being so open about what you’re experiencing. I just want to let you know I’m here for you and still see you as the person I’ve always known. If you need someone to talk to, a companion to simply listen or a friend to play a video game with, I can do that; I’ll do what I can to help. I can’t say I’ll know how to fix what you’re going through but I can be there with you through it.

And to those who are worried about someone in their lives: please don’t hesitate in reaching out to them. Go on, do it right now – don’t wait. Send them a private message and ask how they’re doing so they know you’re thinking of them and they have your support. We all need someone to look out for us sometimes and if your friend is going through a tough time, stepping in and showing you care could mean more to them than you realise.

It’s time for change. Together we’re stronger, and we can make a difference.

To join a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health problems, please visit the Time To Change website. You can also join in with the next Time To Talk Day on 07 February 2019.