Jill Miller CIPDThursday 5 February 2015 is #TimetoTalk day - in this guest blog, Dr Jill Miller, Research Adviser at the CIPD, encourages people to take five minutes to have a conversation about mental health:

We want to help break the silence as we know that having a mental health problem is hard enough, without feeling you can’t speak up when things are difficult. Just a short conversation can make a big difference to someone and lets them know they’re not on their own.

Right now, one in six workers is dealing with a mental health problem. And in our latest CIPD Absence Management survey, two out of five employers said they’d seen an increase in reported mental health problems in the past year. How comfortable do you and your colleagues or friends feel about speaking up when you’re struggling? Let’s keep working to break down the stigma around it, and talk about mental health as readily as we would about a broken arm.

A Department for Health report published in 2011 said there’s no health without mental health. It’s so true that we talk about physical health much more readily than we do mental health. There are some simple ways we can support our own and others’ mental health and wellbeing:

Are you being your own best friend? Think about how you support your own mental health and well-being. We often get caught up in supporting other people or ‘life just takes over’ and we can forget to look after ourselves. Can you put aside even an hour a week to read your book, have a bath, meditate or go for a walk?

How comfortable do you feel talking to your friends or colleagues about mental health? Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. The #TimetoTalk advert explains how asking someone how they are is all it takes to make a difference to how they're feeling.

Do you know what support your organisation offers? Often employers invest in employee assistance programmes and counseling services for their staff, but sometimes staff don’t know how to access them. Ask your HR department to do a desk drop, put up posters and put the contact numbers for these services on the intranet.

Where can people go for help if they need it? Although the aim of Time to Talk Day is to get people talking about mental health in general (e.g. myths and facts) rather than about an individual’s own mental health, conversations may become distressing for people. The organisation Time to Change has developed a list of mental health help and support services: take a look here.

Get involved in #TimetoTalk day: Take five minutes on 5 February to have a conversation about mental health. Talk at work over a cup of tea, online, or with your friends and family. Find out more here.

To read more from Jill visit www.cipd.co.uk/blogs/cipdbloggers/b/jill_miller where this blog was originally published