This coming Thursday 1st February is ‘Time to Talk’ day. This is an initiative organised jointly by Mind and Rethink Mental Health, aimed at ending discrimination based on metal health.
Even though the mental health landscape has changed quite considerably in Britain over the last decade, it is still something of a taboo subject. As a society, we still have the mantra of ‘stiff upper lip’ at our core. No doubt this helped previous generations through some pretty tough times, and I’m sure it still has its place. Ask that great British question in greeting, “How are you?” and you aren’t at all taken aback when people proceed to tell you all about their everyday aches and ailments. After all, they aren’t expecting you to fix them; they know you’re not a doctor. They just want someone to hear what’s it’s like for them everyday. This is how it is for me.
But if the other person was to start telling you all about their sadness or loneliness, or how they struggle to motivate themselves just to face another day, or how they feel gripped by panic whenever they try to leave the house…well, you might feel a little uncomfortable, perhaps even embarrassed.
The person experiencing mental health difficulties might be struggling not only with their own sense of shame, but with the added societal shame of not being able to ‘cope’ with what life has thrown at them. But there’s another layer; one that makes it even harder to bear, and that’s the shame that comes from believing that you are the only one who struggles to cope. Imagine how liberating it could be just to hear that you aren’t the only one. This is how it is for me, too.
Being heard and understood is one of the most fundamental human needs.
So, this Thursday, let’s try to break the taboo surrounding mental health. Wherever you are. Whoever you are with. Whatever you are doing. Outside the school gates. Around the photocopier or coffee machine. Down the pub. On social media platforms. Get the conversation going.
It’s time to talk.