Reducing stigma and opening up this Time to Talk Day

Today (6 February) is Time to Talk day, an opportunity to start an open discussion about mental health and listen to others. We look at how you can get talking and how to be a good listener this Time to Talk Day.

Time to Talk

Today, 6 February, marks Time to Talk Day, a key date for reducing the stigma around mental health. The day is run by Time to Change, the charity working to end mental health discrimination.

As it’s name suggests, Time to Talk Day is all about choosing to talk about mental health whether it is sharing your own experiences, offering a listening ear to others or just highlighting the need for an open discussion on mental health.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, but a lot of people feel ashamed or embarrassed talking about them, leading to isolation.

Talking about mental health can feel awkward – but it doesn’t have to.

Whether you are talking or listening, Time to Talk Day is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation.

Talking

To encourage people to get chatting this Time to Talk Day, the organisation is encouraging people to use the game would you rather? Just like the version you played in school the game gives you two options to pick from, but this time one centres around talking about mental health.

The game is being used to break to ice and get the conversation flowing.

There’s lots of ways to make starting a conversation about mental health a little easier. If you want to talk to a loved one about your own experiences, concerns or questions, try and find a time and place that feels comfortable to you.

Talking about your mental health when you are doing an everyday task like making a cuppa or folding the washing can make it less nerve-wracking.

Be open to their questions if they have any, they will want to help you where they can and opening up is a great first step to seeking support.

Listening

Time to Talk Day is the perfect opportunity to check in with your loved ones. Whether you know that they struggle with their mental health or you just want to see how they’re feeling, everyone experiences stress and worries that can be eased if they know there is someone to reach out to who will listen.

Ask questions that are open and allow the person to explain how they are feeling and why, this can help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that aren’t judgemental.

If a loved one opens up about their mental health problems to you, offer support but resist the urge to put forward a quick fix. Managing or recovering from a mental health problem takes time and continued support.

The most important thing is to be patient and remember that you can check in anytime, not just today. Your loved one might not want to open up right now, but asking will let them know that you are there when they are ready.

Get involved

Along with speaking to loved ones about their mental health, why it’s important to talk and reducing stigma today, you can get involved in a host of ways.

The quickest way to raise awareness is to share information on social media. This could be your experience with mental health problems, why you’re taking part in Time to Talk Day or just a fact about mental health.

There are also events taking place around the country.

If you need support for a mental health problems speak to the Samaritans on 116 123.

How are you starting a conversation this Time to Talk day? Let us know on Twitter or Instagram.

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