Time to Talk

time to change

Time to Talk

Conversations about mental health change lives. 

At the moment, too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless by other people’s reactions.

But talking about mental health doesn’t need to be difficult. It can be as simple as making time to have a cup of tea or go for a walk, and listening to someone talk about how they feel.

Being open about mental health and ready to listen can make a positive difference to someone’s life.

"It's #timetotalk because if you say something, you realise how many people around you haven't, and needed to"

This is what the Time to Talk campaign is all about – giving us all the chance to talk and listen about mental health.

Whatever the hour, every conversation, every text, every share means more people are reached and more lives are changed.

Time to Talk is organised by Time to Change, which is a growing movement of people changing how we all think and act about mental health. For more information, please click HERE.

The Time to Change aims are to:

  • Improve public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
  • Reduce the amount of discrimination that people with mental health problems report in their personal relationships, their social lives and at work.
  • Make sure even more people with mental health problems can take action to challenge stigma and discrimination in their communities, in workplaces, in schools and online.
  • Create a sustainable campaign that will continue long into the future.

To find out more about how Time to Change can support you to keep the conversation going year-round in your workplace, take a look at their resources.

On this page we will host some of your stories, as a way of highlighting the importance of talking. If you would like to contribute, please contact us by emailing: communications@gmmh.nhs.uk. It's Time to Talk.

Stephen's Story: "Opening up to family and friends helped me get through tough times"

Stephen Higginson, from Manchester, has suffered with depression. He made this video to raise awareness of #TimeToTalkDay and to try and help break down the stigma attached to mental health. When he originally posted this video on his Facebook page, it gained 10,000 views in one day.

"I'm not ashamed that I've suffered with mental health problems. Nobody should be. If my video helps one person suffering or educates just one person then I'll be happy. As my old mate Gandhi used to say: 'BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD'

#TimeToChange #TimeToTalk #RethinkMentalIllness #MIND #DoYourBit"

Tony's Story: "Losing a loved one was the incentive to seek help for my own mental health issues"

Losing a loved one was the incentive to seek help for my own mental health issues

Turning the corner into my mother-in-law’s street, it finally hit me. Michael’s car wasn’t there. Which meant Michael wasn’t there. And Michael wasn’t there because he was gone and none of us would ever see him again.

We wouldn’t hear him laugh, we would never again be the butt of his jokes, or share in his generosity.  time to talk

We used to gather at his mam’s to watch United when they were on TV. Each occasion was a truly happy family get-together, where brews and gags flowed and we shared stories and quips, with the crowd noise from the TV acting as a backing track to the pantomime taking over the living room. And Michael was always at the centre of it.

Parking up that day, I had to stay in the car, breathe, and stop myself from crying. For the previous month or so I hadn’t allowed any emotional heartache in. I couldn’t. I had been concentrating on everything that needed doing, from organising the funeral to getting legal advice on what would happen to his very limited ‘assets’.

Michael told us he was depressed one Christmas after an uncharacteristic outburst. It was a shock as he was your typical ‘lad’ in his mid-40s – tough, hard-working, street-wise and the life and soul of any social situation.

Too proud to ever ask for help before, the alarm bells rang in the weeks before his death as he accepted a tenner from his mam and admitted to not eating for days. In his house, there was a pile of CVs and applications for unpaid work with charities. And in a draw by his bed pictures of his loved ones. And still we couldn’t help him. It haunts us daily.

In the car outside my mother-in-law’s, I was computing these visions and feelings for the first time. No stranger to bereavement, I had lost two close friends and all my grandparents by the time I was 16. I’d lost more close friends in the intervening years (subsequent therapy would reveal the extent of this when I finally talked about each one individually), to the point I had become blasé about death. This was not healthy. There I was, sat shaking and tearful in a car on a council estate in Manchester.

At that point I made the decision to seek help. Although I was far more accepting of mental health issues than Michael had been, like many men I had never been comfortable talking about anything regarding feelings and emotions.

Talking about my struggles and experiences changed my life. I received talking therapy from the mental health NHS trust in Salford, where I lived and I became open about my battles.

Prior to this, I believed I was ungrateful to feel depressed when I had a lovely family, decent career, my own home and my physical health. I didn’t believe I should be affected by losing so many people. My therapist told me that it was no wonder I was experiencing depression, anxiety and mood swings. It was the first time in my life that someone had told me that I had every right to feel bad and that there was a reason for it. Until that moment I thought I was weak, spoilt and selfish for feeling down, when so many other people intime to talk the world had nothing.

I still live with depression every day and the battle continues. With that in mind I recently took part in GMMH’s Recovery Academy course about ‘Living with Anxiety and Depression’, to further help with my own coping mechanisms, but to also share with others, my experiences and theirs.

It helped me think about how I interacted with other people who suffered with their own issues. How important it is to not become too ‘self-involved’.

The Recovery Academy experience was up there with my talking therapy as a life-altering occasion and I would recommend it to anyone – whether you suffer with a mental illness or not. The understanding of the illnesses covered, is excellently delivered, with compassion and humour, where appropriate.

Talking has helped me deal with deep-lying feelings of hurt and loss. Before, I had been unable to write about Michael’s death. I tried so many times. I even had an informal agreement with former employers at a national paper to write about our family’s experiences. I just couldn’t do it. But opening up vocally empowered me to face up to it and to put pen to paper, as I have done for the first time here.

My mother-in-law has a framed picture of Michael above the dining table. I show it to my two-year-old daughter and tell her about the uncle she will never meet. Michael’s death made me and my wife decide to start a family, as life is far too short to wait for a mythical ‘perfect time’. Whenever I ask my daughter ‘Where’s uncle Michael?’, she points at the sky. And I smile.

We will always miss him, but his experience can act as an example of the importance of getting help and our family’s recovery can act as proof that there is hope and broken hearts can begin to mend, if you just start to talk.

Stephen Fry's story: "I want to speak out, to fight the public stigma and to give a clearer picture"

Stephen Fry has experienced mental health problems for much of his life. But it wasn't until he was 37 that he was finally diagnosed with bipolarStephen Fry speaks out about mental Health disorder. "I'd never heard the word before," he said. "But for the first time I had a diagnosis that explains the massive highs and miserable lows I've lived with all my life."

During research for his documentary 'The Secret Life of The Manic Depressive', Stephen found out that the illness affects hundreds of thousands of people in the UK. He was also dismayed to discover the extent of prejudice surrounding mental health problems. "I want to speak out, to fight the public stigma and to give a clearer picture of mental illness that most people know little about."

Stephen thinks better public awareness is essential to help people break their silence. "Once the understanding is there, we can all stand up and not be ashamed of ourselves, then it makes the rest of the population realise that we are just like them but with something extra.

"The single most important feature of mental health in this country, is the mental health not of those who suffer from some disorder or other, but the mental health of the nation who for some reason or other, continue to have a view of those who are mentally unwell. This amounts to stigmatising, and stigma it seems to me is the thing we most have to address."