Importance of Time to Talk Day
Time to Talk Day is about starting mental health conversations with the people in our lives whether that’s family, friends, colleagues, or the people in our communities. We all have mental health so if we are all talking about it, it makes it easier to support each other, and ourselves too. Mind and Rethink Mental Illness have found recent research that shows how important open conversations are in supporting everyone’s mental wellbeing. They inform us that ‘conversations about mental health have the power to change lives’.
Talking about mental health should be a priority for everyone. Mind found that 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England. This shows just how common mental health issues are, and that we should never be afraid to speak up about how we feel.
In a lot of ways mental health and self-care go hand in hand. Encouraging people to implement self-care practices is essential for sustaining positive mental health. Our Group Head of Mental Health Law, Julie Rowlands, understands the difficulty of prioritising our own needs, and she describes how she tries to find moments in her day to look after herself:
“Looking after our own mental health often feels like a luxury that we don’t have time for – especially when you’re juggling pressures both at work and at home. Finding the time for a dedicated ‘time out’ such as going for a walk or meditating seems impossible.
I have found that my own social battery is somewhat depleted in these post covid months, and I’ve got better at saying ‘no thanks!’ to things outside of work that I just don’t have the energy for. Allowing myself small luxuries such as dropping a text to a friend you’ve been meaning to check in on, or blocking out an hour of your evening to watch something on TV (guilt free and uninterrupted!) – have also felt beneficial.”
Small luxuries in the form of self-care can improve our mental health significantly. It gives us a ‘breather’ from our hectic or stressful schedules – something we all need!
Getting people talking in the workplace
Mental health is an important conversation in the workplace so that we can maintain our wellbeing at work, however the Mental Health Foundation found that less than half of UK employees would be comfortable speaking to their line manager about their mental health. The stigma in workplaces surrounding mental health seems to be slowly improving though as many employers are introducing, or have introduced, mental health support and guidance for their employees.
Our Head of Health and Safety, and Team Mental Health First Aider, Colin Mitchell, does a lot of work at Active Care Group to ensure our team are looking after themselves:
“Within the Quality and Health and Safety Team, we try to prioritise our own mental health by setting aside time in each team meeting for discussions and reflections. The feedback has been great and something each colleague seems to enjoy, and find worthwhile.
“One thing we come back to often is the “stress container” which is an imaginary container that fills up with all the stresses of the day/week. In order to let the container drain, you need to use helpful coping strategies such as walking, exercising, talking, socialising, or as Julie says take time to watch a good TV programme guilt free! There are unhelpful coping strategies such as alcohol or excessive eating, which we also talk about in our meetings, and how to try and overcome the use of them. The key is to not let the container overflow!
“My personal mantra (among many) that I say to my team is that it is a marathon and not a sprint so take time during the day to recharge, don’t feel like you have to sit at a desk all day. If you don’t make time for your own health, then you will have to make time for your ill-health.
“I am very passionate about wellbeing at work and anything that will help our staff to enjoy work, and life, is essential, not a luxury.”
The Quality team have been involved in a Steps challenge to help with their wellbeing. They split into 2 teams for the challenge, and the winning team will be the team who has recorded the most steps over January.
“It encourages the team to get out into the fresh air, like going for a walk or a run, and has been really well supported. We are well on the way to record over 2.5 million steps which is over a thousand miles walking!”
We think that the opportunity to talk about mental health in work meetings, along with physical challenges for colleagues, are wonderful contributions to the overall mental health of employees.
We have some tips on how to approach and manage mental health conversation at work, in relation to our Group Behaviours at Active Care Group:
- Looking out for your colleagues by listening or recognising what colleagues are saying/doing, picking up on changes in their mood or their attention, and identifying that they may be going through something.
- Speaking to your colleagues and giving them the opportunity to talk about their experiences without judgement so you can learn about their experiences.
- If you are their line manager, what action can you take to make sure they have the right support in place?
- Support that person by not treating them any differently when they open up to you – be fair and inclusive.
- And of course, all of this is underpinned by being kind when someone is being honest with you.
Our Group Behaviours are at the heart of everything we do. By choosing key behaviours instead of values, we can show our colleagues, patients, residents, and clients what is important to us by what we say (and how we say it), what we do and how we treat others.
You can find out more about our Group Behaviours here https://activecaregroup.co.uk/about/
Getting your community talking
As we know, conversations about mental health can often make people feel uneasy or awkward; Time to Talk Day is about changing those attitudes in our communities. Not forcing people to talk about mental health, but letting them know that there is always a safe space to talk about an issue, should they ever need to.
While there is no handbook to talking about mental health, there are ways you can approach the conversation of mental health with someone in your community in a considerate way. Here are some helpful tips from Mind and Rethink Mental Illness:
- Ask questions and listen – Try to use open and non-judgemental questions to help you understand someone’s experience in a better way.
- Think about the time and place – It might be easier to start a conversation while you are doing something, such as walking or cooking.
- Don’t try and fix it – Even though you may want to offer quick fixes, the likelihood is that the person might have already tried your suggestions or may just want to talk instead of being offered advice. Therefore, it might be better to listen without offering advice, as talking in itself can be very powerful.
- Treat them the same – Support the person you care about by not treating them any differently when they open up to you about mental health struggles – they’re still the same person as they were before.
- Be patient – If someone isn’t ready to talk yet, then that’s okay. It will probably be easier for them to open up to you another time because you’ve let them know you are there for them.
Visit https://timetotalkday.co.uk/tips-to-talk/ if you would like further details on the tips and advice mentioned above.
For more information on how to get everyone talking about mental health in the community, workplace or amongst young people, then please see the links below: