It's time to talk, it's Time to Change
Posted Wednesday 23 March 2011
Our campaign Time to Change, is trying to break down the stigma attached to mental health problems, quite simply by getting people talking.
Research for Time to Change has consistently shown that people’s knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems are better when they have had the opportunity to hear first hand from someone who has experienced a mental health problem about what it’s like.
You might think that, with one in four of us affected by mental health problems at some point, all of us would have had this opportunity – all of us should know someone affected and have spoken to them about it.
But this isn’t the case. As a society, mental health isn’t a subject we’re open about. We feel afraid – either to talk about our own mental health problems (for fear of how people will react), or to talk to someone we know has been affected about it (maybe for fear of having an awkward conversation, or of not knowing quite the right thing to say).
This fear means we’re silent about mental health issues. We tread on eggshells, we decide it’s less awkward just not to say anything. We don’t ask, we don’t tell. This silence fuels the stigma – which in turn makes it even harder for those of us with mental health problems to open up about it. It’s this vicious cycle of silence and fear that we’re aiming to break with our new campaign.
Our advertising asks the public – what are you afraid of? What’s the worst you really think could happen when you just ask someone who’s been off sick for a while how they’re doing? It gently pokes fun at our fear of these conversations, and shows that you don’t need to be an expert to just ask someone how they are. We hope it’ll spark conversations, and encourage people to say:
How are you feeling?
Just those few simple words could make a real difference to someone who’s been having a tough time. And, if we all made an effort to say them more often, they will really help us break down the taboo around this issue which, ultimately, affects us all.
What are your experiences of talking about mental health? Tell us in the comments below or join the conversation on the Time to Change Facebook page.
You can also read our tips for getting those conversations started.
Kate Stringer, Time to Change
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