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Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet many people feel too ashamed to talk about it. By supporting national Time to Talk Day on Thursday 6 February,we’re aiming to get people across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire speaking openly about mental health.

Organised by national anti-stigma campaign Time to Change, Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to take five minutes to have a conversation about mental health – whether that’s texting a friend, chatting to a colleague, or even hosting a coffee morning or event. The conversation can take place anywhere and with anyone – friends, family, work colleagues, fellow students and in workplaces, schools, colleges, in the community and even online.

John Trevains, Director of Nursing, Therapies and Quality for Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, explains why the Trust is supporting Time to Talk Day.

“Time to Talk Day is a simple idea. We believe it can be very effective in breaking down the stigma that exists around mental health,” he says.

“Every year, a quarter of the UK population experiences a mental health problem, yet many of us are still reluctant to talk about it. We need to speak as openly about mental health as we do about every other aspect of our health and wellbeing and feel that we can seek help when we need to.

“We would like to see everyone using the day to take five minutes to talk about mental wellbeing with friends, family and colleagues.”

To mark the day, the Trust’s Social Inclusion Team will be supporting a number of local events:

  • Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury, Thursday 6 February, 10am to 12 noon – members of the team will be on hand to provide information about accessing mental health services locally. This event will also provide the opportunity for people to engage with the creation of the Trust’s Five Year Strategy
  • Leominster Library, 6 February (library opening hours ) – showcasing the Community Transformation Project developments
  • Belmont Abbey,  Rucknor Lane, Hereford (Hedley Lodge), 9.30am to 12.30pm – a co-facilitated workshop with Healthwatch considering what the voluntary sector provides to support people and improve their mental wellbeing.

Top tips for starting a conversation

If you are concerned that someone you know might be experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing:

  • Ask questions and listen – try to ask questions that are open, not leading or judgemental
  • Think about the time and place – sometimes it can be easier to talk side-by-side rather than face-to-face
  • Don’t try to fix it – unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen
  • Treat them the same – do the things you’d normally do; they are still the same person
  • Be patient – some people may not be ready to talk yet.

There are also lots of things you can do to support them, even if you’re not talking, such as doing things together, sending a text to let them know you’re thinking of them or offering to help with day-to-day tasks.

Getting help for your mental health

The most important thing to do is let people around you know how you’re feeling. Talking to a partner, family member or friend is essential.

You can self-refer to the Trust’s Let’s Talk service, which is for anyone experiencing issues such as anxiety, stress and depression. It can be contacted on 0800 073 2200 or www.letstalkglos.nhs.uk

You should also talk to your GP – they can recommend ways to feel better and can also refer you on to other mental health services.

To find out more about Time to Talk Day and get involved, visit the Time to Change website – www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day

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