(Originally posted to Crissie's personal blog at crissyleigh.com)
Time to Talk Day is an initiative from Time to Change. Time to Talk on the 1st of February is to encourage people wherever they are whether it be in a coffee shop, on a bus, at work etc to talk about Mental Health. I know what some of you may be thinking, “why on earth would you want to talk about Mental Health in these places?” Well why not?!
Having a Mental Health problem is scary at times, you feel alone and well ashamed at times because of the stigma around it. There is never a ‘right place’ to talk about most problems and issues in life but if we take the step and begin to talk about it, it may just become a little easier. People who don’t know about Mental Health Problems may just feel easier about asking about it and finding out more.
Now more than ever it is time to talk. We live in an age where so much is going on for every single person. People shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about how they’re feeling. People shouldn’t be afraid of being silenced or being judged. It’s time to continue to break the stigma and ensure that we start to be there for one another.
There isn’t really a right way to talk about Mental Health, everyone is different and will express themselves differently. It might be awkward and even silent at times. Silence is okay though. Make sure you are giving the person your full attention, don’t play on your phone or do anything that shows you aren’t listening to them.
Keep things normal, just because someone has been diagnosed with a mental illness doesn’t mean they have changed. Trust me we don’t grow two heads and we don’t have random changes. However I could potentially have two heads when I’m hungry as that’s never good! We’re still the same person, don’t treat us any different.
For me talking about my own mental health has been a struggle. In secondary school/sixth form and well university there wasn’t really anyone there for me to speak to and if I did it was “Oh you’re just a bit stressed with the work. You’ll get over it”. Over the past few years, it’s been getting slightly better. I still have the odd comments from people which I’m starting to learn to bounce off me. I’m now using my own experience to help others especially young people by volunteering with HeadStart. I’ve had the honour to talk with HRH the Duchess of Cambridge about young people and Mental Health at the recent HeadStart Learning Conference in London alongside one of my fellow ambassadors Hannah and the HeadStart Hype team.
It’s Time to Talk, it’s time for the stigma to finally be broken and it’s time for people not to have to be ashamed about how they feel. So sit have a cuppa or a coffee and a little natter. Remember it’s okay not to be okay.