On February 1st, we celebrate open conversation and listening. Let’s talk about mental health without taboo and be honest about our feelings.
Time to Talk Day is dedicated to breaking down the stigma surrounding conversations about our mental health. We all have mental health, and on this day, we encourage everyone to engage in open and honest chats about it with their friends, families, communities and work colleagues.
Mental illness affects 1 in 4 people. Nearly 1 in 5 in Scotland experiences at least two anxiety symptoms, and 1 in 100 develops schizophrenia, often in early adulthood. Men, less likely to discuss mental health, face challenges in opening up.
This year’s theme for 2024 is ‘What I really mean,’ which urges us to recognise that the words people express may not always reflect how they truly feel and what they are going through.
Talking about your mental wellbeing can be tough. It’s natural to worry about being judged or dismissed. Conversation holds incredible power and opening up is the first step toward seeking support and building connections. On the other hand, our language on mental health matters; it can be the difference between someone seeking support and reaching the crisis point.
“If I hadn’t found the group here, I really don’t know where I’d be right now. We can chat about anything in the group and how we’re feeling at the same time. There’s quite a large group here and with my boosted confidence it’s just knowing that there’s people out there with similar experiences. It’s so easy to be here and talk about anything and nobody is judging because they’ve been in the same boat.”
James has had anxiety from early childhood, which has worsened. But with some courage, he was able to benefit from peer group support and one-to-one support in Stranraer by coming to Change Mental Health. You can read more about James’s story here.
How do I start a safe conversation about mental health?
Here are some examples of questions you could ask to create a safe space for another person to open up:
- How have you been feeling lately?
- Is there anything on your mind that you’d like to talk about?
- I’ve noticed you seem a bit different lately. How are things going for you?
- How are you coping with everything that’s going on in your life right now?
- How could I help you?
Consider that this may be the first time this person shares this, which can be overwhelming. Do not judge or take anything personally. They might not want to look for solutions right now. Just reassure them that help is there and openly listen to their feelings.
To learn more about open conversations, supporting other and looking after yourself when doing so read our ‘supporting others with their mental health’ resource.
Try to utilise the skills of active listening when someone opens up. Open, non-judgemental questions allow for someone to feel heard, respected and better able to focus on how a situation is making them feel rather than the context of the situation itself. Be mindful of body language too, and ensure that any distractions (such as your phone) are not going to effect the space you have created.
We want as many people to know about Time to Talk Day as possible. You can help us by speaking openly with your friends, family and colleagues about your mental health. Often, when one person opens up, others will follow and we can all support each other. We understand that this can feel really difficult, and if you would prefer to spread the word in a different way, you can request support cards from us and put them on noticeboards around your local community. That way, we can reach and support more people across Scotland.
You can read more about Time to Talk Day on their website. Their website provides posters, social media graphics, various activities for download and other ways to engage during this time.
Our Advice and Support Service is open Monday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm, where advisers can signpost you to local support that most fits your needs, including our own Change Mental Health services. We offer initial advice on money worries and help to deal with emergencies.
Contact 0808 8010 515, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out the enquiry form on the Advice and Support Service page.