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Time to Talk Day 2019 – six ways you can share how you feel

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Leaders, Health & Wellbeing

Graphic for Time to Talk Day, part of the Time to Change campaign. It has the Time to Change logo at top right, and the Time to Talk Day logo with date 07/02/19 in a speech box with the text: 1 "How are you?"; 2 Comments about the weather; 3 Mental health facts; 1 View broadened. And beneath the speech box is a multi-coloured umbrella and the words: However you do it, make a conversation about mental health, and the Time to Talk hashtag.

This Thursday, 7 February,  is Time to Talk Day.

It’s an opportunity for all of us to talk openly about mental health, whether we've personally suffered poor mental health or not. And it’s a chance to learn about the different ways of reaching out, or of supporting a colleague, if one of you needs help to cope.

Just knowing when to talk and when to listen can help. Having a mental health condition, even if it can’t be cured, doesn't have to stop you living a full and rewarding life. And sharing a personal experience of living with mental ill health can inspire others.

So it’s time to talk mental health.

But how do you find time and space to talk about such a personal issue in the face of so many pressures?

How talking inspires action

It’s natural to be worried about showing ‘this is me and I need help’, but lived experience and sharing your mental health story can be great motivators for making a difference.

Cecilia Da Forno is driven by her personal battle with depression to embed wellbeing, resilience and openness around mental health conditions in the recruitment and development of Civil Service Fast Streamers.

Cecilia says: “Mental ill health is not a guilty secret. But what to say and how much information to disclose is still a struggle for many, and ultimately it remains a personal choice. Being open about what support you need increases your chances of thriving on the [Fast Stream] programme. Even if you don’t require anything specific, knowing your colleagues and cohort leader are aware of your situation removes the burden of secrecy.”

What can you do today?

Whatever your mental health condition, there are things you can do today – and every other day – to help you live the life you want to live.

There are events happening across the Civil Service for Time to Talk Day, with HMRC deserving a special mention for mixing management, networking and social events to break the stigma, including:

  • The HMRC Choir formed in 1948 will be performing at a ‘Time to Talk in Tune’ singing and wellbeing event in Bush House, London.
  • A 'Talk the Channel’ challenge in Glasgow will see colleagues join for a 21-mile walk – the equivalent of the length of the English Channel – while discussing mental health topics.
  • The mental health walks and talks in Belfast, Southend and Worthing will encourage people not to wear earphones or use their phones, so they can walk, talk and take in the views.
  • Ipswich will have a cake and crafts day to understand ‘the right ingredients’ for creating mentally healthy workplaces, finishing the session with empty plates and a multi-coloured artwork displaying people’s ideas for making it happen.

What can you do tomorrow?

If you have the courage to talk about mental health there is a shared responsibility to listen. All senior civil servants are learning how to be wellbeing confident leaders and create work environments which feature strong relationships that allow people to flourish. These conversations should be two-way, but you have to know when to talk and when to listen. The Samaritans’ Wellbeing in the City campaign provides an active listening e-learning guide to help you do this.

There is more than one way to share how you feel and access support. You just have to find the way that works for you, such as:

  1. asking a manager or colleague for help
  2. confiding in a mental health first-aider
  3. seeking support from a Civil Service network (such as the Cross-Government Mental Health Network)
  4. phoning your employee assistance provider to enquire what support is available, including counselling
  5. going digital with the Charity for Civil Servants’ Wellbeing DogBot
  6. getting a prognosis and professional advice from an occupational health provider

Further information

Check your departmental intranets for news of Time to Talk Day advice and local activities you can get involved in; and for information on Mental Health First Aiders (or equivalent), Employee Assistance and Occupational Health Providers, and Workplace Adjustments.

For more information about Time to Talk Day and resources to raise awareness and support others’ mental health, please also see the Time to Change website.

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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    Thank you for promoting this very important issue.

    I have to say that I have been both amazed and encouraged in the way over the past 5 years that there has been a increased level of interest in Mental Health and Wellbeing. I have also been impressed in the number of people who have spoken so openly about their personal life journeys and the challenges they had faced.

    Within the FCO the Wellbeing Network which was only launched in June 2015, was doing its bit to promote Time to Talk Day both in the UK and throughout its Global Platform.

    I was in Ankara on Feb 7th witnessing the HM Ambassador Sir Dominick Chilcott sign the Time to Talk Pledge. His signatory should be seen as Senior Management backing of the fantastic work that the Staff within the Turkey Network have been doing in the Wellbeing Space to make it a great place to work.

  2. Comment by Kevin Oliver posted on

    A really good piece, which much to think about and some really good ideas. However, I have to query the geography. Surely the Channel is 21 miles wide, at it's narrowest point, not long. It runs along the south coast of England, which is considerably more than 21 miles. However, the width from Dover to Calais is approx. 21 miles.

  3. Comment by Tony Griffiths posted on

    Thanks for this information. I can only speak for CCS in the Newport office, but last year a number of us were trained in the Mental Health First Aid course (MHFA) and we have found it extremely useful. We tend to promote the staff on notice boards and a few mentions at Floorplate meetings when required. It is becoming more and more relevant of the surrounding issues we all go through at work and at home that can affect our mental and physical well being. I think support such as this is essential in a modern thriving organisation to understand and create a work space that reflects modern day life. Promotion and raising awareness such as this is great and long may it continue.

  4. Comment by Gordon Hodgson-Day posted on

    Thanks, as ever, for your work in this area, Jonathan.

    Staff Wellbeing and Mental Health networks across government will be holding events and sharing their work with their colleagues as a part of activities for Time To Talk Day.

    These networks do important work offering peer support and collaborating with HR and People teams in their departments.

    I'd encourage all colleagues to reach out to their local networks through departmental intranets.

    If any one needs any advice in this area, please contact me through the links to the Cross-Government Mental Health Network, above, or on twitter @XGovMHN.

    Gordon Hodgson-Day - Lead, Cross-Government Mental Health Network