As many of you will know it’s Time to Talk day on Thursday this week. It’s part of the Time to Change campaign to end mental health discrimination. The point of the Time to Talk day is to increase conversations about mental health to reduce the isolation and negative feelings that people may experience when dealing with a mental health problem. For those of us working in clinical settings, this may be what you do every day – talk to people with mental health problems. That’s important and the role we have in doing this is a privilege as well as hard work – we should definitely keep doing this. How often are we able to do this in other settings? We often have those conversations that involve one person saying ‘How are you?’ and the other saying ‘Fine’ or ‘Hanging in there’. We may nod sympathetically but perhaps we don’t ask more and the conversation moves on. Perhaps it’s time to think about doing things differently – could we say something else that may be encourages a different conversation. There could be so many ways of doing this and I’m sure you all know of many different options. So instead of moving on, we could ask ‘What’s been happening?’ or ‘How’s your day/week going?’
Why is time to talk important for us? How many of us have perhaps had a difficult day with someone with whom we work? How do we deal with that? How do we deal with the difficult experiences that someone has shared with us? As Duncan said in his blog, it starts with ‘Just breathe’ but it’s important we talk too and are listened. I work in a specialist post-traumatic stress service and one of the things we do is ensure we have regular peer supervision/support where we can share the work we do and its impact on us. It’s helpful to do this so that we don’t individually take home our experiences of our clients’ experiences and worries and concerns. That’s a bit of time to talk.
A team of health visitors I know make sure they bring in breakfast once a month and share their experiences and thoughts about their days – another time to talk. However, a community mental health team told me they were too busy to do that – no time to talk. The first team reported feeling happier in work and less sickness.
Time to talk isn’t just about the work we do and one of the findings around good mental health is the opportunity to have at least one close, confiding relationship. This emotional support is very important to an individual’s wellbeing and time to talk to each other forms an essential part of this.
So what will you do on Time to Talk day?