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Talking about mental health can be hard. But conversations on mental health have the power to change and even save lives. This is why the organisations Mind and Rethink Mental Illness are encouraging everyone to make time in their day on Thursday 2nd of February 2023 for a conversation about mental health.

First launched in 2014, Time to Talk Day aims to bring people and groups together to talk about mental health. And since it falls on a workday, Time to Talk Day provides us all with the perfect opportunity to discuss mental health and raise awareness in the workplace.

But why is mental health awareness so important? And how can you join the conversation this Time to Talk Day? Keep reading to learn more. …

The Importance of Mental Health Awareness
In the UK, 30 percent of the population suffers from at least one mental health condition. Common conditions include anxiety disorders and depression — around 8 in 100 people experience symptoms of depression and mixed anxiety in any given week.

What’s more, post-pandemic stress has led almost 1 million Brits to seek a medical referral for anxiety and depression over the last couple of years.

Statistics like these show the prevalence of mental health conditions. They also highlight the fact that we’re all likely to have a colleague, friend, or family member who is struggling.  We aren’t immune either and could just as easily be struggling with mental health concerns ourselves.

But unless we start to open up lines of communication about mental health, it’s all too easy to think that mental illness is something that happens to other people. Or to believe the common myth that it’s a sign of weakness or failure.

As people come to realise that they’re far from alone in facing mental health conditions, this helps raise awareness. And, as with workplace conversations on menopause or grief, we can help to destigmatise the issue and encourage the kind of supportive work environment that I’m a huge advocate for.

How Talking About Mental Illness Helps
Research carried out for Mind in 2022 found that 63 percent of people agree that it’s getting easier to talk about mental health. It’s also encouraging to learn that, of those who have talked about their mental health, 73 percent reported at least one positive conversation during which they felt supported and listened to.

But, while mental health discussions are getting easier for some, others still need encouragement to talk about their struggles. That same Mind research found that 25 percent of adults who experienced a decline in their mental health for the first time during the pandemic are still yet to talk about it to anyone about it.

This is why nationwide events and campaigns such as Time to Talk Day are so vital. Sharing experiences of mental illness may provide the push someone needs to finally open up to others or seek professional help. While talking to friends and colleagues can be beneficial, it cannot compete with the effectiveness of the range of talking therapies recommended by NICE and the NHS.

Joining the Mental Health Conversation
Whether your workplace has a mental health support plan in place or not, Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity to be proactive about mental health. Not least because it serves to encourage new conversations surrounding these increasingly common issues.

If you’re unsure of how to approach Time to Talk Day, I recommend downloading this pack. It includes posters for the office, social media images, and conversation starters to try with your team. Using these resources to promote Time to Talk Day will show your commitment to joining the mental health conversation.

With these kinds of events, I find it best to invite my team to join me for tea and cakes in our virtual ‘meeting room’. That way, we can enjoy a sweet treat while chatting in a more informal way. 🥮

My aim for this year’s Time to Talk Day is to touch on themes such as mental health myths, symptoms, and how to support colleagues who may be struggling. But if someone in my team has a different preference, I’ll go with it. From sharing a personal experience to talking about novels covering mental health themes, there is no right or wrong when it comes to opening up a dialogue about this topic.

Of course, not everyone will feel comfortable discussing mental health, especially in a group setting. But it doesn’t have to be awkward or personal. Activities such as watching a video, taking a mental health quiz, or playing the games in the pack are great for getting everyone talking, both during the gathering and after.

With this in mind, make sure to prepare line managers and team leaders with helpful resources should employees wish to continue the Time to Talk Day conversation in private. This mental health support guide by Mind is full of invaluable advice for managers. And this information on seeking mental health services is ideal for passing on to any team members who come looking for guidance.

Raising Mental Health Awareness on Time to Talk Day
Now you know why mental health awareness is so important and how Time to Talk Day can help reduce the stigma around mental illness, we hope you’ll be marking the 2nd of February on your workplace calendar. **

That said, talking about mental health shouldn’t be limited to one day of the year. Time to Talk Day is great for starting the conversation but ongoing open communication about mental health — amongst other topics — is key for cultivating a true culture of unity in the workplace.

For more tips on creating a safe and supportive workplace for all, make sure to check out the rest of our blog! Or, if you want to get in touch with us here at The HR Hub, drop us a line via hello@thehrhub.co.uk, give us a call on 0203 6277048, or schedule a diary meeting here.

** For details on other calendar events to promote inclusivity this year, we’ve done the heavy lifting and created a calendar already – please feel free to copy this link therefore to add to your own calendar to see many events across the year