Some of the most unexpected conversations I’ve had about mental health have been the most powerful ones. In my experience, talking to an acquaintance, or even a stranger, can have a big impact on your mindset. It’s in those moments when you’re chatting away to someone who you don’t know that well, that you’re occasionally gifted with a fresh perspective, or a new opinion, which makes you think twice.
It’s human nature to make assumptions. We shouldn’t, but unconsciously, we all do it. For example, you might see someone with a fancy car and jump to the conclusion that they have a ‘perfect life’. Or you might notice a colleague keeps turning up late to work and assume they’re being lazy. However, unless you stop to ask that person how they are, you’ll never come close to understanding what their life is really like. That’s why conversations – however small – are so important.
Recently, I had a conversation with a colleague about mental health. We hadn’t spoken much before, and we didn’t really know anything about each other. We started chatting about the pandemic, and it naturally led to a point where we discussed how lockdown had impacted us. We shared our experiences, how we’d been managing our mental health and swapped some advice. It was such a lovely conversation.
I’m sure many of us have felt isolated or lonely recently. In this current climate, where everything is changing so quickly, it’s easy to feel lost. I know people who had never experienced mental health problems before who are really struggling at the moment. That’s why it’s so important to talk. Just a quick chat about mental health can spark a chain of meaningful conversations, reducing stigma and helping people to see that they don’t have to go through it alone.
It’s mind blowing to think that coronavirus has impacted everyone across the world – but we’ve each had our own unique experience. Not everyone has struggled with their mental health since the pandemic, but from what I’ve seen, people certainly seem more open to talking about the subject. However, there’s still a long way to go.
The way we openly talk about physical health compared to mental health greatly differs. For example, most people with a bad back wouldn’t feel uncomfortable saying they can’t lift something because it might hurt them further. But when it comes to mental health, it can be daunting to say you need to sit out on something because it could cause you further distress. That’s why conversation is vital.
But we can all learn something from talking about mental health. Even if you’ve never had a mental health problem, speaking about the subject can help you in many different ways. Listening to someone talk about their experiences might aid you when it comes to supporting others. Talking now might even help you to identify if you, or a loved one, needs support in the future. We can’t all know everything, but every conversation we have has the power to broaden our understanding.
That’s why days like Time to Talk Day is so important. By all talking at once, we can have an even bigger impact. You don’t have to talk about your own mental health – it can just be a general chat. Even talking about a mental health storyline in a soap or drama you like can help to positively change attitudes and spark some important conversations.
Together, we can promote kindness, understanding and patience. Time to Talk Day is just one day, but remember – you can have conversations about mental health any day. By just talking a small amount, we can all help each other.