January 29, 2024
By Craig Donathy - Head of Mental Health TAC Healthcare
Thursday 1st February 2024…make space in your dairy… it is Time to Talk Day, a day which offers the chance to do things a little differently, to start a new habit, an opportunity for each and every one of us to lift the veil on mental health and be open about the challenges we have faced in our life or of the struggles you are still working through and how it makes us feel.
Time to Talk Day 2024 is run by Mind, Rethink Mental Illness, and is being delivered in partnership with Co-op for the third consecutive year. Across the UK, is being delivered by See Me in Scotland, Inspire in Northern Ireland, and Time to Change Wales.
Some factors contributing to our current struggles are undoubtedly energy prices, mounting inflation, rising mortgage rates and tax increases have all led to a cost-of-living crisis. 91% of adults reported that their cost of living had increased compared to a year ago, with 73% reporting that their cost of living had increased compared to a month ago.
Specific challenges include:
These factors affect us all and undoubtedly influence mental health, self-worth and mood decline to some degree or another. Talk about your struggles to friends or colleagues, you don’t have to divulge all your troubles but even exploring one of them will leave you feeling a bit less burdened. This may help others to open up about their difficulties, ease the pressure a little and even start to improve their mental health; every little helps, so do your bit for mental health by making time to talk on Talk Day.
Let me step forward and share one of my own personal challenges. Several years ago, I had an accident and broke both my legs. I was at the peak of my life, good job, good friends, and the fittest I’ve ever been; this was all taken away in a heartbeat after a major road traffic accident. I was in a wheelchair for months and had to learn to walk again. Friends fell to the wayside, I could no longer hit the gym, socialise or even go to the toilet unassisted. Each day was like Groundhog Day and my mood slid. It was a long year and one of the greatest challenges of my life. I was able to get support from a couple of close friends, take a few steps back and reframe this situation. It took a bit of time but I started to climb out of the slump and accept my altered life and abilities. Following on from my encounter and my subsequent experiences, it has allowed me to undertake substantial personal reflection on how I can manage stress better, learn to cope with loss and work with change. It helped me look at myself, talk about my struggles, tap into my strengths, dig deep and slowly change my career from Engineering to Mental Health Practitioner.
Of course, you do not have to go through a life-altering event in order to struggle with life; our daily stresses can often be enough to lead to elements of discontent, unhappiness or anxiety and at times we may, for no apparent reason, feel down. Talking about these thoughts and feelings will allow others to understand some of our struggles which may be affecting our behaviours. Making time to talk out these challenges, may prevent the development of worsening mood decline and the spiral of negative thought patterns.
You don't need to be a specialist to talk about mental health, just a little courage is all it takes.
To start a conversation around mental health, you could:
As a Samaritan volunteer for almost 20 years, I have seen firsthand the power that just being there and listening can have on people’s lives. Phone calls lasting 2 hours in the wee small hours, riding the distress wave with someone until it subsided was both humbling and rewarding. Whilst we are not advocating such conversations as these, a little can mean a lot to someone.
Studies have found that being kind is linked to increased feelings of happiness, wellbeing, and life satisfaction for people of all ages. 63 % of UK adults agree that when other people are kind to them it has a positive impact on their mental health. Kindness can have real benefits for our mental health and wellbeing such as increased feelings of happiness, wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Let’s make a change to both yours and someone else’s day! It may alter your life, but it will certainly change theirs.
TAC Healthcare Mental Health Services:
Helpful links for those struggling:
Go to timetotalkday.co.uk to see how you can take part and download your free time to talk posters and content.