Can you see me? Really see me? I’m trapped inside wanting to scream “help me!” but yet too afraid to talk. So I smile, put my head down and plod along with the crowd or become the joker hiding the pain inside.

‘It’s time to talk’ seems so easy, you just make time to talk, right? But it’s not so straight-forward.

With such busy lives and the pressures of work, family and life we sometimes simply forget to really talk and make time for genuine meaningful conversations.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, and sadly far too many people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless because of this. Even now in 2020, there is still stigma attached to mental ill-health and, as a result, some people feel unable to open up and talk to others about problems with their mental health.

It’s important to recognise that we all have mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health. Sometimes we are in good shape (physically and/or mentally) while other times we have issues that affect our overall health. It’s time to balance things; we should all start viewing our mental health as importantly as our physical health.

A BBC News article in 2017 reported an increase of 22% in the last five years of NHS staff having to take time off work due to their mental health. Now, more than two years later, things are no better. Here are some shocking facts according to the Labour Force Survey (LFS):

  • 602,000 workers suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety (new or longstanding) in 2018/19
  • 12.8 million working days lost as a result

When you next sit with colleagues or friends, one in four of you could have a mental illness. If a person broke their arm you would see the cast and know something is wrong, but with mental illness, there is no cast, no visual clue. On the outside, they may appear fine but inside they are struggling. This isn’t always obvious and people often feel the need to hide it. So take the time to talk and listen, this might be the first step that someone needs. Let’s make a difference, break down the barriers around mental illness and start the conservation, build relationships that support mental wellbeing and mental illness.

Time to Talk encourages everyone to be more open about mental health, to talk, to listen, to change lives. Time to Talk Day is on 6th February, and this year’s annual awareness day is run by Time toChange and supported by Prince Harry. It’s aimed at getting the nation to talk about mental health. If you need some inspiration or ideas for starting that conversation, then Time to Change have some great resources.

Remember you are not there to judge or diagnose, just make time to talk.

At Connect2Care and HIT Training, we fully support this initiative. As a qualified First Aid Mental Health Instructor, I believe it’s essential to open the conversation and support employers and employees in mental health first aid. This is fundamental to both the individual and the organisation, considering how many working days are lost due to mental ill-health within the UK. Time to Talk is a great way to start changing perceptions and support the nation’s mental health.

At Connect2Care we offer three different courses which enable employees to have different skills at different levels in providing First Aid for Mental Health.

We offer the level 1: Awareness of First Aid for Mental Health and is a half-day course providing learners with the knowledge to recognise a range of mental health conditions and how to start a positive conversation and how to signpost a person to appropriate help.

First Aid for Mental Health Level 2 provides learners with the knowledge to recognise a range of mental health conditions, how to start a supportive conversation and when and how to signpost a person to seek appropriate professional help. Learners will know how to recognise and manage stress and understand the impact of substance abuse. They will learn about the first aid action plan for mental health, be able to put it in place and know how to implement a positive mental health culture in the workplace. This is a 1-day course

Supervising First Aid for Mental Health L3 provides learners with the knowledge to recognise a wide range of mental health conditions and learn about the support/therapy provided by professional healthcare providers. Learners will learn about the first aid action plan for mental health, be able to put it in place and understand how to implement a positive mental health culture in the workplace. The level 3 is a 2 day course and upon successful completion of the course, the candidate will be a qualified Mental Health First Aider.

If you would like further information on these courses or any other courses we offer, please get in touch with me by contacting:[email protected]

By Lindsey Appleby-Flynn, Connect2Care Adult Health and Social Care Lead
[email protected]

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