In March 2018, a week before my 21st birthday, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. The doctor also told me I was in recovery from bulimia, but still showing signs of the behaviours associated with it. Although officially diagnosed, I always knew that I was ill – but I was too afraid to tell anyone about it until things got extremely bad in my second year at university.
When I got involved with Time to Change, it was the first I had heard of Time to Talk Day. It is such an amazing day to celebrate mental illness and challenge the stigma that so many of us mental health warriors face every single day.
If you want to get involved this year but don’t know what to do, here are 5 cost effective yet impactful ideas for you to try! All of these aren’t just specific to Time to Talk Day, you can do this on any day of the year! For people with mental health problems, every day can be a day when they need to talk.
1. Meet a friend for a coffee.
There is (almost) nothing that a cuppa coffee or a brew can’t fix! In some of my darkest days, a catch up at home or in my local coffee shop with a good friend is so helpful. If you are unsure if a friend is struggling, but you have noticed changes in their behaviour, then there is no harm in asking them for a coffee! You have no idea how valid you will make them feel!
2. Ask your teacher or boss to share Time to Change’s Youtube channel in class or the work place!
If you type in Time to Change on YouTube, you will find so many amazing videos on how to start a conversation around mental health. Campaigns such as #InYourCorner and #AskTwice are crucial in teaching us how to start these conversations. The videos are short and sweet, but are so informative, and also so lovely.
3. A small gesture.
All you need in order to get a conversation flowing is a mobile phone! Text a friend who you haven’t heard from in a while and see how they’re doing! If they are like me, they may quickly say they are fine, which is why it is so important to ask twice!
4. No question is a stupid question.
If a friend has shared with you that they have a mental health problem, then don’t treat them any differently if you have misconceptions! Instead, ask them about it! It will allow them to open up, and you will also learn something! Just keep in mind that they may not want to share personal details about their illness.
5. Little notes!
This may not be up your street, but I am always trying to get people to talk about mental illness by leaving little notes in places I go! I write anything from ‘you got this’ to little facts about mental health that will make people think ‘I never knew that!’
The impact that these can have on people is incredible. If it wasn’t for me starting a conversation about my eating disorder and anxiety to my parents, I would have never have gone to the doctors, I’d have never have become a mental health advocate, and I would never have had the journey of my life with Time to Change.
I hope you all have a fab Time to Talk Day! Get out there and challenge those stereotypes! (Or if you want to stay at home in the warm, that is just as good!!!!)