Time to Talk – Time to Change
A cup of tea can represent a small, significant step on the road to recovery.
This was the message behind Time to Talk Day, which took place yesterday, encouraging people in Britain to be more open when it comes to mental health.
This could mean chatting about your solutions over a cuppa, or asking someone about theirs on social media – those behind the campaign want to generate 1m ‘conversations’ across the country.
It is organised by Time to Change, the largest programme in England tackling the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental health. The initiative has been in place since 2007 and is run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.
The first ever Time to Talk Day is part of the programme’s strategy to improve public attitudes to those with mental health problems and to empower sufferers to feel confident talking about the issue without fear of discrimination.
Time to Talk Day will spread across schools, homes, workplaces and the internet today in a bid to show that openness is the answer.
Things are slowly turning around, said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, thanks to greater awareness in the media, more high-profile figures talking about their experiences and people realising that the issue affects someone close to them.
‘There’s a greater recognition that it’s an everyday experience that many, many people are going to go through, or we all know and love somebody who’s going to go through it,’ she said.
‘People’s attitudes have started to change, we are heading in the right direction, but we are a long way off. For those of us who do experience mental health problems, it is a great help being able to talk about it as an everyday health issue without any fear of judgment or unfair treatment.’
Here are some statistics:
- 1 in 4 people in Great Britain will experience a Mental Health Problem in any given year.
- 1 in 6 workers will experience mental health problems
- 1 in 10 young people will experience a mental health problem
- 1 in 10 say they will experience stigma and discrimination every day
- 28% of people waited more than a year to tell their family about their mental illness
- 8.5% of sufferers still have not told their family
- 42% of people with mental illness experience stigma at least once per month
- 58% of people say that stigma or discrimination as damaging as and harder to deal with than the mental illness.
- 63 % of adults know someone with a mental health problem.
Time to Change helps those suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses, including anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, depression and schizophrenia.
“I was so depressed that I didn’t want to carry on living and I think the more of us who can talk about it the more it gives people hope as well as create understanding,” Said Sue Barker.
Speaking with a family member or friend about your situation is a conversation that can save your life.
If people like you speak out about how you sought help, it can also give others in a similar situation the confidence to do likewise.
The project has worked with a number of organisations, including local fire brigade, police, hospitals and job centres, to help them improve the way they interact with people with mental health problems.
Families can sometimes be afraid to admit that they have a loved one who is suffering from a mental health problem, employers can sometimes be reluctant to “take a risk” on someone with a mental health diagnosis and sufferers themselves are often embarrassed to discuss their illness, even amongst friends. This desperately needs to change.
‘Most people with mental illness will tell you that it is not so much the disease that prevents them from living a full and active life, but more the stigma that surrounds the disease, that leaves sufferers isolated, lonely and often living in relative poverty. The more we all know and understand about our own mental health, the better equipped we are to understand when things go wrong with our mental health and to be able to support others.’
Talking is key, said Baker, as the alternative is to suffer silently. ‘There’s a cycle of silence,’ she said. ‘If you fear how other people are going to react because they don’t understand what you’re going through, then you stay quiet and they don’t learn anything. This is an issue that affects one in four of us. You are not alone.’