Time to Talk – Start Small, Start Young
I have just finished reading ‘Ruby’s Worry’ to my young daughters.
It’s a very straightforward plot….Ruby loves being Ruby. Until, one day, she finds a worry. At first it’s not such a big worry, and that’s all right, but then it starts to grow. It gets bigger and bigger every day and it makes Ruby sad. How can Ruby get rid of it and feel like herself again? Well spoiler alert – she talked about it and ‘as the words tumbled out, Ruby’s Worry began to shrink until it was barely there at all.”
The book is one of many that happily exist today, designed to help children talk about their worries and fears. Through illustration and sensitivity – Ruby’s worry is shown as a messy, yellow scrawl of a face which follows her around and pushes her to the side. When she talks about what’s bothering her, everything explodes with colour and the world goes back to normal – books like this can help children even as young as four and five with their emotional wellbeing.
But what about those of us in our forties and fifties? 1 in 4 adults will experience a mental health problem in any given year, with 1 in 6 people experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. Latest data shows that the nation is in the grip of a mental health emergency, as underlined by a spike in calls to the charity Mind’s helpline. As a result of the pandemic, many have experienced problems for the first time and those who were already struggling are finding things even harder. Despite the soaring statistics, many adults still don’t find it easy to open up about mental health problems. But not talking about how we feel can lead to serious consequences. Opening up to family and friends can help in overcoming mental health issues according to
Dr David Poots, senior occupational physician at BHSF: “It can be difficult to change cultural attitudes to mental health. Having depression or anxiety can make a person feel ‘weak’ or ‘a failure’ and they try to cope even when they need help. But there is nothing wrong in needing help and talking to someone you trust, like a friend or family member, can make a big difference. There is no right or wrong way to tell loved ones about how you feel. But when you do talk, feel comfortable and, most importantly, be honest, not just to your family but with yourself.
“Sharing survival stories is another way of giving hope to someone else. Mental Health Forum, is our community hub, which allows users to share their experiences and wellbeing journeys. This free online community space is designed for people to drop in from time to time and realise they are not alone. We want people to open up and share their personal stories of struggle and whether they have any tips they’d like to offer.”
This year’s Time to Talk Day led by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness might look a little different, but at times like this open conversations about mental health are more important than ever. The 2021 focus is on the power of small, because however you have a conversation about mental health – whether it’s a quick text to a friend, a virtual coffee morning with colleagues, or a socially distanced walk and talk with your family – it has the power to make a big difference. Just ask Ruby…..