How to approach your colleagues this Time to Talk Day 2020

This week is jammed full of activities to inspire mental health conversations. Not only is is Children’s Mental Health Week and Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week, on Thursday, February 6 is also Time to Talk Day. 

We know that there’s always time to have mental health chats. However many find it hard to start these kinds of discussions and need that extra push of encouragement. It’s not an easy thing to do, so having a day dedicated to inspiring others to talk is just what is needed to help people open up. 

You may find it easy to open up to a friend or family member, but how easy do you find it to speak to a work colleague or manager? We spend half of our lives at work so not feeling like we have the support at work can feel very draining. 

Time to Change have devised activities to encourage workplace discussions this Time to Talk Day. They have also drafted an email which managers can send around to their employees, in support of this vital mental health day. You can copy and paste this email below. 

But how else can you talk to your colleagues? Time to Change have decided to use the popular game ‘Would you Rather?’ as an icebreaker. One of their examples is would you rather kiss a jellyfish? Or talk to a colleague who feels out at sea? 

I can think of many for anxiety related mental health issues: 

Would you rather walk over hot stones? Or make a phone call to a stranger?

Would you rather bungee jump from a plane? Or attend an unfamiliar social situation? 

There’s many examples that you can share with your colleagues. 

If you don’t feel like attending Time to Talk events in your workplace, you may feel like today would be a good opportunity to tell your manager how you are feeling. This could be either face-to-face, or via an email or letter if that feels easier. 

Another way to communicate with your colleagues may be through your internal emailing system. We have Google chats in our office. So maybe popping up for a chat message with a friend at work might be a way you ‘talk’ on Time to Talk Day.

In some workplaces there are Mental Health First Aiders you can talk to. See how they are benefiting their workplaces here.

Finally, if you don’t actually feel like talking today, that’s completely OK! There’s no pressure or judgement. Whenever you feel ready, there will be someone there for you. 

If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone at work or home, or you just want external support below are a list of helplines you can contact. 

Draft email to colleagues 

To all staff, 

For Time to Talk Day on 6 February, we’re choosing to talk about mental health. 

Too often, mental health problems are treated as a taboo subject – something not to be talked about, especially at work. 

However, mental health affects us all and we should feel able to talk about it. The more conversations we have, the more myths we can bust and barriers we can break down – helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many of us feel when experiencing a mental health problem.

In [month and year your organisation signed the Pledge] we signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, a commitment to you all to change how we think and act about mental health at every level of this organisation. 

One in four of us will experience a mental health problem and 9 in 10 say they have faced negative treatment from others as a result. By choosing to be open about mental health, we are all part of a movement that’s changing the conversation around mental health and ensuring that no one is made to feel isolated or alone for having a mental health problem. 

As part of our ongoing commitment to this, we are supporting Time to Talk Day. Taking place on Thursday 6 February, this is a day when everyone is encouraged to have a conversation about mental health. [You could include details here of what your organisation is doing for Time to Talk day]. 

We want everyone who works here to feel they can be open about their mental health, and ask for support if they need it [you could insert details of your organisation’s support offer such as Employee Assistance Line or HR policies here, or include the information about support services included in this pack]. 

[sign off]

Helplines you can contact:

Mind Info line Telephone: 0300 123 3393 – 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday Email: info@mind.org.uk Text: 86463 http://www.mind.org.uk/help/advice_lines With support and understanding, Mind enables people to make informed choices. The Infoline gives information on types of mental health problems, where to get help, drug treatments, alternative therapies and advocacy. Mind also has a network of nearly 200 local Mind associations providing local services.

Rethink Mental Illness Advice Line Telephone: 0300 5000 927 – 9.30am to 4pm, Monday to Friday Email: info@rethink.org http://www.rethink.org/about-us/our-mental-health-advice Provides expert advice and information to people with mental health problems and those who care for them, as well as giving help to health professionals, employers and staff. They also run services and groups across England and Northern Ireland.

Elefriends http://www.elefriends.org.uk Elefriends is a supportive online community run by Mind where you can be yourself. 

Samaritans Telephone: 116 123 – 24 hours a day, free to call Email: jo@samaritans.org http://www.samaritans.org Provides confidential, non-judgmental emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those that could lead to suicide. You can phone, email, write a letter or in most cases talk to someone face to face. 

SANEline Telephone: 0300 304 7000 – 4.30pm to 10.30pm, everyday http://www.sane.org.uk/what_we_do/support/helpline A national out-of-hours helpline offering emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by a mental health problem, including family, friends and carers.

For more information head to: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day

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