Hello there, friend. It’s time to talk.
Every year, on the first Thursday in February, Time To Change heads up #timetotalk day. Time To Change is an organisation dedicated to ending the stigma and discrimination around mental health, and the #timetotalk campaign is all about opening up conversations, giving people the opportunity to speak openly about their experiences of mental health and mental illness.
It is a much needed campaign. It is very important. Those conversations can be life changing.
Living with any kind of mental health problem is difficult. It can be frightening, isolating, and have a detrimental impact on your day to day life. If you had a physical illness that impacted you in this way, chances are you’d be likely to speak to someone about it. Chances are they would respond with sympathy and support. Unfortunately, the same cannot always be said of mental health issues. As if dealing with the issue itself was not difficult enough, trying to talk about it can be met with discomfort, dismissiveness, misunderstanding, and in some cases, even hurtful comments.
As a society, we simply have not been conditioned to be as understanding of mental health issues and we have of physical ones. We also have not been equipped with the language to express exactly what it is we are dealing with.
Mental health is a very personal thing. We maintain our mental health in different ways, and we suffer with mental ill-health in different ways as well. No two people will have exactly the same experience – yet another reason why it is so important that we listen, properly listen, when people take the opportunity to share their experiences or concerns. It’s also why we need to provide the opportunities for these conversations to happen.
Three years ago, to mark #timetotalk day, I shared 24 posts in 24 hours, all around mental health. To date, they are still some of the most popular posts on this blog and the response and engagement was so positive. This year, I’ve decided to do the same again. Some of the posts will include recommended books, apps and other resources; some will be musings or questions for consideration; some will be bits of my own creative writing inspired by or reflecting on my experiences. Some will be short, some will be long, I can’t promise as to the timing of them all as I’m in work all day so am trying to schedule as many before hand but I want to write some on the day itself so there may be an influx post working hours! Whenever they appear though, there will be 24 in all, posted before midnight.
My own mental health journey has been convoluted, with many tips and downs, denials and difficult admissions. Now, more than ever, I feel how important it is to be able to talk openly about these experiences, without fear of judgement. I know that some of the most helpful experiences I have had have been hearing about other people’s experiences because, if nothing else, they made me feel I was not alone.
So I’m inviting you to join me, not just for 24 posts in 24 hours, not just for this #timetotalk day, but in working to change start, carry on, and share the conversation, and create more open dialogue and positive understanding of mental health.
* * *
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health then please don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to someone. You are not alone and help is available. By opening up and starting the conversation we can move forward together and look to a mentally healthy future. Below are links to a range of fantastic organisations that can provide information, advice and services.
The Samaritans – http://www.samaritans.org
Mind – http://www.mind.org.uk
Young Minds – http://www.youngminds.org.uk
Papyrus (prevention of young suicide) – https://www.papyrus-uk.org
Self Harm UK – https://www.selfharm.co.uk
Time to Change – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk
Rethink Mental Illness – http://www.rethink.org
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – https://www.afsp.org
Please do not struggle alone.