Time to Talk day 2020 – Why talking remains important

Andrew Berrie
Andrew Berrie

Head of Workplace Wellbeing, Mind

Last year I wrote about the importance of Time To Talk Day and the importance of talking about mental health in the workplace.

Since, there have been an increasing number of conversations (particularly among the most vocal of twitter users) about whether this remains a critical issue with many people asserting “there is enough awareness” and that people “now understand mental health.”

And whilst Time to Change’s most recent research published in its 2018/2019 Impact Report suggests that there has been a 3.1% improvement in attitudes amongst the adult population over the last two years, there is still significant progress still to be made.

Two in three (64%) people report that they have been treated in a negative way because of their mental health.

Over half (58%) of people with mental health problems report that stigma and discrimination has stopped them from doing the things they want to do (YouGov 2019).

Two in three (64%) people report that they have been treated in a negative way because of their mental health and 60% of people say that stigma and discrimination are as damaging, or more damaging, than the symptoms of their mental health problem.

Mental health stigma is not a periphery issue to that of addressing mental health in your organisation. It is a central issue that can prevent your staff from being open and honest with work colleagues and forming strong bonds, from disclosing to line managers and HR functions in order to seek support, from requesting reasonable adjustments to support them perform at their best and lead to more significant issues over time.

Research undertaken by Mind shows that only half of those who have experienced poor mental health have talked to their employer about it, but when they do disclose a mental health problem, it leads to their situation improving.

Colleagues chat over a cup of tea

Employers and work colleagues are reported as the people or groups of people most likely to have been discriminatory.

In the same Time to Change survey conducted by YouGov, 36% of respondents reported employers as being a group from which they had experienced stigma and/or discrimination with 27% reporting the same of work colleagues.

Large corporate workplaces were highlighted as the single most reported location that respondents experienced stigma and discrimination with 29% asserting this.

This highlights a clear need to educate staff and line managers, increasing their understanding of mental health, how to manage mental health in the workplace and indeed (in some instances) their obligations under the Equality Act.

We also need ensure that our policies and processes support regular, ongoing conversations between line mangers and line reports and for organisational guidance and templates to encourage discussion of employee wellbeing. Wellness Action Plans​Guides to wellness action plans Web page Wellness action plans are an easy way to help support your own mental health at work and that of your team members. Mind has guidance and templates to get you started, for both employees and line managers.FreeSign up to receive by e-mail By: Mind View resource can be a fantastic tool for supporting line managers to have such conversations.

We need to see staff of all levels talking about their own experiences.

Time to Talk Day, on Thursday 6 February, presents an opportunity for all of us to raise awareness of mental health issues and advocate against social stigma, ensuring that all our colleagues feel comfortable being open and honest and their authentic selves at work.

By raising awareness of mental health and encouraging discussion​Start the conversation Video One of the first, and easiest, things you can do to start improving mental health at work is simply to start a conversation. In this video, people from various industries talk about the importance of talking to someone.Free By: Dorset Mind View resource, you can challenge this harmful culture. We need to see staff of all levels talking about their own experiences, and employers have a role to do in reassuring staff that if they do talk about this issue, they’ll be met with support, rather than stigma and discrimination.

A group therapy session takes place.

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

Our Time to Talk Day Workplace Activity Pack is full of tips, ideas and resources to help your organisation get involved and raise understanding of mental health stigma in a manner that is not intimidating or awkward – indeed within the pack you’ll find quizzes, wordsearches, fill in the gaps games and even a snakes and ladders board!

You’ll also find our Workplace Conversations Pack, which includes a range of ready to print materials, communications templates and videos.

These bright and visual resources are perfect for putting up in staff rooms, common areas – even the back of toilet room doors! Whilst our YouTube videos are easy to share on internal social channels, intranet pages and in staff newsletters.

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Whether you work with 10 people, 10,000 people or just yourself, paying attention to mental health in the workplace has never been more important.

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