Coventry and Warwickshire come together for Time to Talk Day | Our News

Coventry and Warwickshire come together for Time to Talk Day

One in four people experience a mental health problem in any given year. 

Health and care partners in Coventry and Warwickshire are using Time to Talk Day   (Thursday 3 February) to remind residents that a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference.

Research shows that people are often afraid to talk about their mental health experiences because they fear the response and stigma they may receive. However, open, direct and honest conversations can break down barriers, helping to end the isolation, shame and worthlessness that too many people feel when experiencing a mental health problem.   

This year Time to Talk Day aims to get people talking about mental health more than ever before, by encouraging everyone to start a conversation. By creating supportive communities where it is safe for people to share their feelings, whether that be amongst friends, family or colleagues, we can show that talking about mental health is normal. Being open and responsive to someone when they start a conversation about how they are feeling can reduce the stigma and empower people to seek help when they need it.

It can be difficult to know how to start a conversation or respond to someone who is struggling if they come to you for advice. The Dear Life website (www.dearlife.org.uk), a site created specifically for residents in Coventry and Warwickshire, offers a wealth of information about where to seek help in a crisis, ways to support others in need and tips and tools on how to maintain and improve your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of others.

For a range of mental health and wellbeing services and support available across Coventry and Warwickshire to support you during difficult times visit www.warwickshire.gov.uk/mentalhealth or www.coventry.gov.uk/mentalhealth.

The Zero Suicide Alliance, a charity aiming to raise awareness of suicide, has developed free online training that anyone can complete to give them the skills and confidence to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing suicidal thoughts. A second interactive course is available to help people learn how social isolation can affect mental health and how they can support someone who is feeling isolated. Visit www.zerosuicidealliance.com/ for further information.

Supportive tools like the Stay Alive app, a free suicide prevention pocket resource, can also help individuals that are struggling to cope. It contains tips and practical steps to help support someone feeling suicidal as well as local mental health and suicide prevention information. 

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone today, they can call Coventry and Warwickshire’s local mental health helpline (provided by Wellbeing for Warwickshire) on 0800 616 171 and speak to a professional for free.  Helpline staff can provide emotional support for residents who:

  • feel low, anxious or stressed and want to talk to another person
  • feel extreme emotional distress and feel there is nowhere else to turn
  • care for another person and are finding it difficult to cope
  • need advice about how to get more support with an issue that's affecting their mental wellbeing
  • feel socially isolated and just need a chat.

As we continue to emerge from these challenging times, it is important that we pay close attention to our own wellbeing, and the wellbeing of those around us. The Coventry and Warwickshire initiative, Wellbeing for Life offers the 5 Ways to Wellbeing which are actions you can take to reflect on, and improve, your overall wellbeing, they include:  

  • Be active 
  • Whether it’s a walk, run, home workout or meditation, being active helps people to feel good. 
  • Connect 
  • Building connections can help to improve wellbeing, whether this is within the local community or taking up a hobby and linking with people who share similar interests. 
  • Give 
  • An act of kindness can help to improve mood and make others feel supported and cared for. 
  • Keep learning 
  • Learning new skills can offer a sense of achievement and confidence - a chance to try something new or rediscover an old interest. 
  • Take notice 
  • Being aware of what is taking place in the present through sensations, thoughts and feelings can directly enhance wellbeing. 

It also offers a Wellbeing 4 Life life map. It is a one-stop self-help resource and shows residents how they can use the 5 Ways to Wellbeing, whatever age they are, and wherever they are on life’s journey, with helpful signposting tips for support. 

Working at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, Alex Cotton is the Team Leader of the Street Triage team, working alongside the Police to provide urgent mental health care to people at the point of crisis. Alex founded the mental health campaign ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’, encouraging people to feel confident enough to start a conversation with someone who may be struggling with their mental health and to encourage those struggling to talk about it. Alex said: “Fortunately, the stigma of talking about poor mental health is beginning to reduce, but I believe the three most common lies we often tell others are: I am OK, I am Alright, I am Fine.  Suppressing negative emotions can make a person feel worse but talking can really help. 

“If you are concerned about someone, simply ask them how they are. One of the biggest myths is that asking someone if they are feeling suicidal will put the thought into their head. The opposite is true; it actually reduces the risk. So being a ‘Listening Mate’ can also help by being there and listening to allow someone to open up. There are many local services that can support with your mental health www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/mental-health-services.  So, on Time to Talk day, if you’re struggling, talk to someone and seek the help that is there for you.  It could make all the difference.”

Coventry City Council Councillor Kamran Caan, portfolio holder for Public Health and Wellbeing said: “Time to Talk day is so important and focuses on conversations having the power to change lives. This can help to end isolation in communities and bring people together, breaking down the stigma and shame that many of us feel when experiencing a mental health problem, especially during the pandemic.

“If you are worried about someone, talk to them and truly listen to their response and remember, support is always available across our area for people who need it, including fantastic self-help resources such as the 5 Ways to Wellbeing life map and the Dear Life website.

“Today we want the whole city to have a mental health conversation.” 

Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care & Health, Councillor Margaret Bell, said: “Warwickshire County Council has been offering support to residents throughout the winter months to look after their wellbeing, and we continue to do this by taking part in Time to Talk Day this February.

“A small conversation about mental health has the potential to make a huge difference. Running an event in your community, sharing articles or videos, hosting a lunch and learn session in the workplace, or even just asking someone how they are doing, are all simple ways to show that you’re prepared to talk and listen without judgement.

“If you feel nervous about striking up a conversation or knowing how best to help someone if they come to you, I would strongly encourage you to complete the Zero Suicide Alliance training – it takes just 20 minutes and could enable you to provide the vital support someone needs to seek further help, or it could even save a life.  Let’s look out for each other, have an open mind and remember, that no one should ever feel alone.”

The following local and national mental health support and helplines are also available:

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