Mental health awareness – is it time for you to talk?

This week there has been a national focus on mental health awareness with Child Mental Health Awareness week taking place from 3rd to the 9th February and Time to Talk day on the 6th.

Both campaigns aim to try and encourage us all to start a conversation and talk about things that are troubling us.

The child mental health campaigns focus is on ‘find your brave’ it says:

“Bravery comes in all shapes and sizes and is different for everyone. Bravery can be about sharing worries and asking for help, trying something new or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Can build your confidence, self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself.”

That message is actually as relevant for adults as well as for children.

The time to talk campaign keeps conversation at the heart of the awareness day using the popular game ‘Would you rather?’ to encourage more people to talk.

By asking ‘Would you rather’ questions people will be able to start up a mental health conversation with strangers, neighbours, family, colleagues and friends. Games, social events and activities can be fantastic opportunities to start up a mental health conversation in a way that isn’t intimidating or awkward.

John Lawlor Chief Executive of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust and Chair of the Integrated Care Sysytem Mental Health programme said:

“The more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down – helping to end the isolation, worry and lowered self-esteem that too many of us feel when experiencing a mental health problem.

“We hope that by encouraging our colleagues and partners to get involved we can play our part in helping to break down the stigma associated with mental illness.”

Jo Loughran, Director of Time to Change, said: “Conversations have the power to change lives. Time to Talk Day is the one day of the year when we want the whole nation to have a mental health conversation.”

More locally the ‘We Will’ group in Maryport, a group of youngsters who try to raise awareness of child mental health, are featured in a special CBBC film. They have featured in a CBBC documentary about youth mental health which was aired this ‘Time to Talk day’. The programme follows ‘We Will’ member Molly as she meets inspiring young people, fitness guru Joe Wicks, health experts and her Cumbria campaign group members ‘We Will’. You can watch it on the iplayer if you search ‘Inside my head, taking control of my anxiety – a Newsround special’.

1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year, but many of us are too afraid to talk about it. Starting a conversation about mental health might seem daunting but simply sending a text, checking in on a friend or sharing something on social media can break the ice.

Is it time for you to talk? Can you find your brave? Or should you say to your friend: ‘would you rather….have a cuppa and a chat?