The importance of Time To Talk Day

Andrew Berrie
Andrew Berrie

Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind

Too often, people who experience a mental health problem are also expected to take the lead on talking about mental health in the wider sense. Time To Talk Day, on Thursday 7 February 2019, encourages everyone to talk about mental health.

Time to Talk Day is the perfect opportunity to get your workplace talking about mental health.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us yet people are still afraid to talk about it. For people with mental health problems not being able to talk about it can be one of the worst parts of the illness. So by getting people talking about mental health we can break down stereotypes, improve relationships, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects us all.

This means Time to Talk Day is the perfect opportunity to get your workplace talking about mental health. And, since it first launched in 2014, it has sparked millions of conversations in schools, homes, workplaces, in the media and online.

A case study: Split the Bills

Split the Bills is a small company based in Sheffield that provides a stress-free way to sort your shared bills. Through their website customers can choose the services they wish to use and Split the Bills will set up those services and, each month, combine all these services into one simple bill, split it equally, and take payments from each housemate directly eliminating the need to chase or bother housemates for their contributions.

Split the Bills signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge in September 2017 and marked their first Time to Talk Day in February 2018.

Two people hold a Time To Change Pledge board saying

Why is Time to Talk Day so important to Split the Bills?

Time To Talk Day is important because it is a great opportunity for people to get together and start a conversation about mental health. It is a whole day dedicated to breaking down the stigma attached to mental health issues and is really integral in helping to normalise the conversation.

How did Split the Bills mark Time to Talk Day 2018?

Last year we organised a full day of activities in the office, which everybody could get involved in if they wanted to. This was run by our Champions and included a group mindfulness session and a presentation by two of our newly qualified mental health first aiders​Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England workplace training Web page Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England offers a variety of training for employers across the UK. This workplace course will qualify you as a Mental Health First Aider.Paid forRequires pre-booking By: Mental Health First Aid England View resource, in which they talked about what they had learned on the course. They also got everybody actively involved in discussing the signs and symptoms of anxiety.

We also asked everybody to prepare a personal goal for 2018, something that they wanted to achieve and tick off their list and we discussed these as a group, along with the health benefits of goal setting and having something realistic to work towards.

We each talked about the ways in which we practice self-care and our Champions gave the group a run down and update on how we had done with our RED January fundraising challenge.

We also produced a short video about our Mental Health Awareness Champions and the importance of these in our workplace.

These activities had a massively positive impact on our organisation.

What do you think the impact of Time to Talk Day was on Split the Bills?

These activities had a massively positive impact on our organisation. It was great to see everybody come together and open up the conversation in a way that hadn’t been done before.

We had a really impressive turn out and were often surprised at the people who authentically opened up about their personal experiences. It definitely brought us closer together and as a result we have seen a much more open culture where mental health is talked about across the business on a day to day basis, and that’s what it’s all about.

People sitting at tables watching a presentationWoman giving a presentationMan standing in front of a row of buntingNoticeboard filled with suggestions of things that calm people downLetter box with 'Split Worry Box' written on it, with cards and pens arranged on table around itPeople standing around a table of food and drinks with bunting around it

What else have people done?

Last year saw over 2500 workplaces host their own activities for Time to Talk Day.

  • Hertfordshire District Council had their staff use transferable tattoos to start conversations around their workplace, making any place the right place to begin a conversation around mental health.
  • The Fourfront Group ensured that even their remote workers felt part of their days events by posting them an array of treats and goodies that their office-based counterparts were able to enjoy.
  • IBM in Bedfont encouraged their employees to talk openly about their feelings and erected a board where people could list what they say, think, do and feel.
  • Transport for London rolled out a number of events across their sites including employee champion training sessions, presentations, yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, tea and coffee mornings, a running group and wellbeing stalls.
  • Highways England held a quiz around mental health issues awareness of these issues among their employees, followed by an opportunity for one on one and smaller group conversations. They also launched a short film produced by an Employee Champion, featuring a number of their mental health first aiders and HR Director discussing the importance of breaking down the barriers to stigma and discrimination.
  • Just this week, engineering firm Dornan chose Time To Talk Day as an opportunity to release a film showing their employees that mental health is a priority for them​Dornan’s mental health and wellbeing awareness campaign Video Dornan, an engineering firm, produced a video to show employees why mental health is a priority for their organisation and to encourage employees to talk about it - especially on Time To Talk Day.Free By: Dornan View resource.

Why is Time to Talk Day important?

  • 9 out of 10 people who experience mental health problems say they face stigma and discrimination as a result;
  • 60% of people said that stigma and discrimination are as damaging, or more damaging, than the symptoms of their mental health problem;
  • 35% of respondents said that stigma had made them give up on their ambitions, hopes and dreams for their life;
  • 27% said stigma had made them want to give up on life.

Within a workplace context specifically:

  • 54% percent of people say they are impacted most by stigma in their place of work;
  • In a survey of UK adults, 56% said they would not hire someone with depression even if they were the best candidate for the job;
  • 35% of people think they would be less likely to get promoted if they had depression.

It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that less than half of employees say they would feel able to talk openly with their line manager if they were suffering from stress, and that only 11% of employees have discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager.

Time to Talk Day presents a perfect opportunity for employers to demonstrate their commitment to changing the way people think and act about mental health in their workplace and normalising conversations.

There are lots of ways you can get your organisation involved in Time to Talk Day.

Getting your organisation talking

There are lots of ways you can get your organisation involved in Time to Talk Day. These can range from large events and PR stunts to starting conversations within meetings or on your intranet.

Our Workplace Conversation Starter Pack is full of tips, ideas and resources to help get your workplace involved and start the conversation. And, whether you’ve got a whole day to commit to your event or just a coffee break, our Activity Guide has a wide variety of anti-stigma activities that you can undertake.

Our Time to Change 2019 video is also perfect for sharing with colleagues via your intranet, ecomms, social media or on your plasma screens:

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