“Get talking about mental health”

Clwyd West Assembly Member Darren Millar is calling on schools, workplaces and communities throughout Conwy and Denbighshire to get talking about mental health.   

This Thursday (February 7th) is Time to Talk Day, a chance for people to be more open about mental health – to talk, to listen, to change lives.

Since Time To Talk Day first launched in 2014, it has sparked millions of conversations in schools, homes, workplaces, in the media and online, and Darren is hoping it will do the same in his own constituency this year.

He said:   

“Mental health problems affect one in four of us yet people are still afraid to talk about it. For people with mental health problems not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness. So by getting people talking about mental health we can break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects us all.

“Time to Talk Day is the perfect opportunity to get your workplace/school/community talking about mental health. Talk Day is all about bringing together the right ingredients, to have a conversation about mental health. Whether that’s tea, biscuits and close friends or a room full of people challenging mental health stigma – it’s the perfect opportunity to get people talking.

“We know talking about mental health is not always easy. But starting a conversation doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a huge difference.”

There is no right way to talk about mental health, but these tips will guide you to make sure you’re approaching it in a helpful way: 

1. Ask questions and listen 

Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgemental – such as “how does that affect you” or “what does it feel like?”

2. Think about the time & place 

Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. However, don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off!

3. Don't try & fix it 

It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time but try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.

4. Treat them the same 

When someone has a mental health problem , they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you'd normally do.

5. Be patient

No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time.

And there are lots of things you can do to support them even if you’re not talking: Doing things together; Sending a text to let them know you’re thinking of them and Offering to help with day-to-day tasks.