Time To Talk Day: The Nation’s Biggest Mental Health Conversation

This year, Time To Talk Day takes place on 2nd February. It is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. It creates supportive communities through conversation with family, friends, colleagues. It is about mental health. It is a time to talk, listen and change lives. By talking about mental health, we support ourselves and others. This year’s theme is ‘Make Space in your day for a conversation about mental health’.

Time to Talk Day was started by Time to Change, a campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Time to Change was run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and funded by Comic Relief, Department of Health and Social Care and the National Lottery Community Fund. Due to funding cuts, Time to Change closed on 31 March 2021. Charity partners Mind and Rethink Mental Illness are committed to continuing Time to Talk day.

“The more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down – helping to end the isolation that too many people with mental health problems feel.

When people talk to each other and establish common ground, prejudices and assumptions are often challenged and replaced with mutual understanding and respect. This can lead to changes in attitudes and behaviours, which is an incredibly effective way to reduce stigma and discrimination.

Conversations can happen on a one to one basis or at events, in person or online.  But it’s always important that you feel comfortable and safe in having those conversations.”

– Time  To Change Islington

Every year at SLT, we continue campaigning and supporting the battle against Mental Health stigma and provide a diverse programme of events and activities in friendly, safe spaces, for those that are experiencing mental health difficulties.

In 2022, in aid of Time To Talk day, we set up our Poetry Corner, to actively encouraging our participants to express themselves and share their thoughts and feelings in a safe, mindful and meaningful way. Go and take a read of their wonderful work so far, and why not try reaching for a pen and paper and let your thoughts and emotions flow.  The written word can start important and powerful conversations.

For more information on how to get involved, top tips from SLT’s very own Neal Zetter (Poet, Author and Entertainer), and to understand more behind the power of poetry, please click here. You can also share your poems on social media using the hashtag #AVoiceForMentalHealth.

On Friday 3rd February 2023, we will also be running a ‘Have Your Say’ evening at our Friday Evening event. This evening will be an opportunity for you to share your thoughts on SLT’s programme, help us understand your current needs and desires, and be involved in SLT’s future programming and development ideas. We want to hear from you, help us, help you!

We hope this will provide a safe space for honest and open communication.

No matter how small the conversations, they have the power to contribute to great change. So let’s keep talking, being there and listening. It can make a big difference.

How can you support a conversation?

1. Listen and ask questions

Listening is very important as it enables a person to feel heard without rushing. It also enables the person to express themselves, how they are feeling. Asking questions in a gentle way help you to understand better what the person may be experiencing. Do ask questions that are open (not leading or judgmental), like “how does that affect you?” or “what does that feel like?”.

2. Think about the time and place

Conversations may be easier when you are both engaged in something, like walking, cooking or making art. This is because you are both focussing on something, rather than looking at each other.

3. Be with it and do not try to fix it. Ask what they need

Listen and quietly support, without the urge to offer quick fixes, and wanting to ‘do something’. Once the person has finished talking, you could ask them what they think may help. Then you could ask how they may like you to support them in finding that help. They may not wish for you to do anything at all, and it is important you respect those wishes, whatever your own thoughts may be. Sitting quietly with a person may be the best response.

4. Respect them as a person

When someone talks about their mental health issues, respect them for who they are as a person, as a whole. Just be yourself with them. Do the things you would normally do.

5. Find other ways to show support

Small gestures and kindness can support in ways that words cannot. Why not:

  • Find things in your community to get involved in together
  • Send a text to let them know you are thinking of them
  • Offer to help with day-to-day tasks

For further support and more information, please visit:

Time To Change Islington

Time to Change Islington is a partnership of Islington Council, Manor Gardens Welfare Trust, Islington Borough Users Group (IBUG), HNG Stress Project, The Peel Institute, London Met Police, and Councillor Janet Burgess MBE. They also work closely with us at Stuart Low Trust and the Eagle Recovery Project as well as other local organisations, groups, and businesses.

Time To Change Islington organise events, campaigns and training for people who live, work or study in Islington to help change the way we think and act about mental health, through having a different conversation.

This Time to Talk Day help us to get Islington talking about mental health by having your own conversations with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, or anyone else!

Often people don’t talk about mental health problems because they’re either worried about how others will react – whether that’s disclosing something about yourself, or worrying about saying the wrong thing.

If you would like some ideas to feel more confident about having conversations – Time to Change Islington offers free training in Social Contact – having safe conversations about mental health. For more information contact timetochangeislington@islington.gov.uk

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