Time to Talk…Time to Change the Conversation…

8th February 2016

For some time, there has been a growing realisation that we need to be able to talk openly and constructively about mental health, with poor mental health affecting 1 in 4 people every year. On February 4th, 2016, the charity Time to Change coordinated a “Time to Talk” day to contribute to this very challenge and achieved over 60,000 logged conversations*.

For some time, there has been a growing realisation that we need to be able to talk openly and constructively about mental health, with poor mental health affecting 1 in 4 people every year. On February 4th, 2016, the charity Time to Change coordinated a “Time to Talk” day to contribute to this very challenge and achieved over 60,000 logged conversations*.

Many people may have missed the existence of this event, I saw it, by luck, as a post on LinkedIn. There is a huge opportunity for us all to equip ourselves to really help change this situation. We are very familiar with seeing physical health topics being openly discussed and challenged, be it heart disease, cancer or diabetes; so why is this not the case for mental health?

One of the main challenges remains the very negative connotations that we have, over time, attributed to the subject. Mental health is a noun, not an adjective or an accusation!

Logically it makes sense if you have first aid for physical health why wouldn’t you do the same for mental health? There was a wide update of half day taster sessions and the full 2 day courses. The course presents a 5 step approach to identifying and responding to poor mental health and awareness on some of the most common conditions including depression, anxiety disorders and psychosis.

The programme is offered in a variety of countries and is typically administered by a national MHFA organisation. One of the most humbling and impactful sessions of training I have ever been involved in included a young person who has suffered from poor mental health sharing their life experience and plans for the future.

On a personal front, my main commitment after the course was to always speak positively about mental health as a subject and certainly when referring to individuals. This arose from a part of the course which asked us to consider all of the names which we use to describe poor mental health. There were many. However, when challenged to consider all of the ways in which we speak positively about mental health, we struggled to write even one!

Personally I thought the MHFA programme was excellent but it is far from the only way of addressing the need for us all to be aware of mental health as a key societal and business risk.

For most of us, if we stop and think for a moment, we will certainly know colleagues who have suffered or are suffering. A small amount of time and effort will probably put you in a much better place to support them. Many organisations including Time to Change (http://www.time-to-change.org.uk ), MHFA (England & Wales: http://mhfaengland.org or Scotland: http://www.smhfa.com ) and Mind (http://www.mind.org.uk ) have amazing people and resources to take this journey forward. It’s time to talk and time to change the conversation on mental health….how could you get involved?

*See the Time to Change video “Let’s get the nation talking” here: https://youtu.be/kPC2aspetRk?list=PLW8cG1kJhcvdVtRxrdvM5ZYkVJpyfwJd5

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