Time to Talk Day which took place on Thursday 3 February encouraged everyone to start a conversation about mental health. Whether it’s a chat with family, friends, or colleagues, talking and listening can help to transform lives for the better as we see the relaxation of Covid restrictions and adapt to change.
Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Adult Services and Public Health said, “One in four of us experiences a mental health problem each year, making it all the more important to talk about emotional wellbeing as part of our everyday conversations. By talking openly, we can support each other and ourselves.
“There’s no right or wrong way to talk about our feelings and emotions and we have found new ways to connect during the pandemic – ways that we can carry on as we embrace our ‘new normal’.”
One lockdown innovation that is continuing is the Reading Friends’ ‘buddy calls’ service as part of the Home Library Service. During lockdown, Hampshire County Council’s library service co-ordinated volunteers and staff to call vulnerable people living alone or with limited support, to ensure they were able to access support they needed as well as providing the opportunity to have a friendly chat. This work had such a positive impact that the befriending calls are being maintained by the volunteers who call regularly to talk about books and other shared interests.
For those unsure how best to start a conversation about mental health, follow Hampshire’s leading mental health charity Solent Mind’s top tips:
1. Ask twice. To get past the ‘I’m fine, how are you?’ response, sometimes you need to ask again. Try ‘How are you really?’ or ‘Are you sure you’re ok?’
2. Ask open questions. Start by asking how their day is going, they might just need the time and space to start talking about how they are feeling.
3. Keep conversations small and informal. Don’t make the conversation a big thing that might cause worry. A small question during an online cuppa is a great place to start.
4. Talk about your own feelings. Being open about your own emotions will increase trust.
5. Listen. Actively listen to what they say, you don’t need to respond just show you are listening and taking in what they are telling you.
6. Don’t try and fix it. Resist the urge to offer solutions and counter arguments, just listen to what they say and show you empathise and care.
7. Don’t be judgmental. Even if you don’t understand why someone would be feeling the way they do, accept their feelings without judgment.
8. Be patient. It might take a while for someone to open-up, don’t rush them just be there for them when they are ready.
9. Whatever you do – have at least one conversation on Time to Talk Day.
Please remember, you’re not alone