While the number of people who take the time to chat with someone close is dwindling, according to a new survey, the first national Time to Talk Day is hoping to spark one million conversations about mental health.
The survey by national anti-stigma campaign Time to Change also revealed that only just over a third (37%) of people ask our family and friends “how they are” on a daily basis, and a quarter (26%) believe they speak to their neighbours less than once a month.
But when people do get round to having their conversation, nearly three in four people (73%) prefer it face-to-face compared to by phone (8%) or email (8%).
Time to Change, which is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is asking people to have a conversation on Time to Talk Day to help get mental health more openly discussed in order to remove the stigma. This could be as simple as asking someone how they are, sending a quick text or having a conversation over a cuppa.
More than 600 activities are taking place to mark the day including a specially named horse race at Taunton Racecourse - The Mental Health Challenge – as well as information and advice being offered to all race goers by the Somerset Time to Change group.
Employers such as The Professional Cricketers Association, Telefonica, Comic Relief, AXA PPP Healthcare and Lloyds General are also helping to reach the one million conversations target. The day is also being supported by celebrities including Corrie’s Beverley Callard, comedian Russell Kane, Dancing on Ice judge Ashley Roberts and TV presenter Anna Williamson, who have each donated a conversation.
Other findings from the survey include:
• Sex was found to be the subject people found most uncomfortable talking about (35%), followed by money (25%), religion (17%), relationships (16%) and mental health (16%)
• Over 55s are the least uncomfortable talking about a variety of topics, whereas just under 1 in 5 people aged 18-24 (19%) feel awkward talking mental and physical health.
Time to Change director, Sue Baker, said: “Today we are asking the nation to have a conversation about mental health. Talking more openly about mental health is a really powerful way of breaking down the stigma and discrimination that one in four of us with a mental health problem have to face. Previous research has shown that people can feel uncomfortable talking about mental illness but when they do talk it’s often much easier than they expected.
“In recent years we’ve started to see a shift in public attitudes but we still have a long way to go until mental health becomes an ordinary and everyday topic - and one that we respond to in the same way as common physical health issues like cancer, diabetes or asthma.”