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The 'Power of Small' conversations about mental health to change lives

Small conversations about mental health can make a big difference to people’s lives – and people in Hampshire are now being encouraged to talk more as part of this year’s Time to Talk Day (4 Feb).

The Time to Change Southampton and Portsmouth Hub, a partnership between Solent Mind, Southampton County Council and Portsmouth County Council, has produced two powerful videos featuring local people sharing how small conversations about mental health really have changed their lives.

Released for Time to Talk Day, one video features champions from Forgotten Veterans UK and the other is in partnership with Black History Month South focused on mental health within BAME communities.

Time to Talk Champion Hayley tells us how a small conversation with her boss about how she was feeling left her feeling understood, supported and started her on the road to recovery. She says, 

“I think that one conversation has really been the catalyst for change after 11 years of suffering of anorexia”.

Emma Fernandes from Solent Mind said: “The videos have been created in the hope they inspire people to start a small conversation about mental health at home, with friends or in the workplace.

“While we are all physically apart in lockdown, staying connected is even more important. Take the time to check in with someone you care about as many people are struggling more than usual and that small conversation might make a big difference for them.”

Cllr Lorna Fielker, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Care, said: "We know that for some people the lockdown is taking a toll on our mental wellbeing. Time to Talk Day is so important right now, because it reminds employers, friends and family members to start small. It’s harder to check in on people to see if they are okay with the current restrictions in place, but taking the time to connect by phone or social media, listening, and being patient and kind can have a positive effect on how they are feeling.

"Following the advice of our partner Solent Mind can help us each to take those small steps to improve our mental health, like the 5 Ways to Wellbeing: Give. Keep Learning. Connect. Be Active. Take Notice. If you need professional counselling or are in a mental health emergency, there are local charities--like Samaritans and the Lighthouse--set up to take your call while we're in lockdown. No Limits offers a number of wellbeing services -- both face-to-face (socially distanced) and remote -- for those under 26 years old."

Lou Taylor, Director, Black History Month South CIC, said: “Black History Month South welcome the association and expertise of Solent Mind in helping to raise the awareness of mental health and wellbeing within the Black Community as part of their Time To Talk Day presentation, and the continuation of the initiative throughout February supporting Black History Month USA. Our individual mental health and that of those around us, is something we all need to be mindful of especially during these difficult days”

Helen Atkinson Director of Public Health at Portsmouth City Council said:"At the moment we may not be able to have conversations in person, so it's more important than ever to make time to chat about our mental health. If you're struggling, trying to cope alone can be very difficult. As a champion of mental health, I hope we can use this day to help change the way we think and act about mental health, to create a more open and understanding culture around mental health within our communities."

Community partner SOLinked has a list of charities to support you on their Coronavirus Community Links page.

Watch the full videos below

Get involved with the hashtag #TimetoTalk. Let’s start talking. Together we will end mental health stigma.

Solent Mind’s tips on how to start a conversation about mental health:

1. Ask twice. To get past the ‘I’m fine how are you?’ response, sometimes you need to ask again. Try ‘How are you really?’ or ‘Are you sure you’re ok?’

2. Ask open questions. Start by asking how their day is going, they might just need the time and space to start talking about how they are feeling.

3. Keep conversations small and informal. Don’t make the conversation a big thing that might cause worry. A small question during a zoom cuppa is a great place to start.

4. Talk about your own feelings. Being open about your own emotions will increase trust.

5. Listen. Actively listen to what they say, you don’t need to respond just show you are listening and taking in what they are telling you.

6. Don’t try and fix it. Resist the urge to offer solutions and counter arguments, just listen to what they say and show you empathise and care.

7. Don't be judgmental. Even if you don’t understand why someone would be feeling the way they do, accept their feelings without judgement.

8. Be patient. It might take a while for someone to open up, don’t rush them just be there for them when they are ready.

If you would like to share your mental health story with us, please email communications@solentmind.org.uk

Time to Talk Day Videos

Videos:

To honour Time to Talk Day and Black History Month in the USA we teamed up with Black History Month South to show how mental health stigma has effected the black community.
For Time to Talk Day local Champions and Veterans share how small conversations have made a big difference to them.
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