A Thame man has helped raise awareness of mental health in the area during a nationwide campaign.
National Time To Talk Day was held on Thursday, February 7 – a day dedicated to raising awareness of mental health in our communities.
A series of events were held around Thame to raise awareness including a discussion on Red Kite Radio, a Round Table event and a cake and conversation evening at Thame Town Hall.
Time To Talk Day is part of an ongoing campaign called Time For Change, organised by the mental health charity Mind.
Jonathan Butler, Time For Change Champion in the Thame area, said: “While mental health is a huge problem we as individuals can make a huge difference by doing very little things.
“You don’t need to be an expert and you shouldn’t try to give advice but you most definitely can let people know that it is ok to talk and that they will not be judged badly.”
He added: “The things we can do are very simple. Firstly, be aware of any changes in behaviour of people that you know. Are people withdrawing from things that they previously loved to do, have their standards dropped with work or appearance?
“Secondly, be approachable and if you are worried about someone ask them how they are and ask them like you mean it. Don’t expect people to tell you straight away. It may take some time for people to open up and tell you how they are really feeling but by showing you are open and that you care people are far more likely to be prepared to share.
“Finally, be prepared to listen. It’s very helpful for many people to just feel that they can talk to somebody without being judged. Many mental health issues are rooted in childhood issues about self worth and sense of belonging, so just building this non judgemental connection is very powerful.”
Mental health issues will affect one in four of us during our lifetime and is an increasing problem with young people in our communities facing particular challenges. Despite this there is still a great deal of stigma associated with mental health challenges, says Jonathan.
He said: “If people have a physical health problem they have no hesitation in telling others and in seeking help. However with mental health problems people are still very wary of seeking help. In the workplace for example only 11% of people who have a mental health issue feel they would be able to tell their boss. According to the Mental Health Foundation a staggering 700 million days costing a whopping £2.4bn were lost in the workplace last year alone due to poor mental health.
“Great work has been done by the likes of Prince Harry to raise awareness and remove the stigma. There is still much however to be done. Time For Change seeks to do this by raising awareness and encouraging greater openness. Given the prevalence of mental health issues all of us will have a family member, friend, colleague or employee who is experiencing a difficulty.”
To find out more about mental health and what you can do to help visit www.time-to-change.org.uk
If you would like to get involved in helping with future events in your workplace or community please contact Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org