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Time to Talk Mental Health

by Laura Johnston

Time to Talk Day on 1 February, is the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. Happening every year, it’s a day for friends, families and communities to come together to talk, listen and change lives.

Talking about mental health isn’t always easy and sometimes it’s even harder to say how you really feel. But a conversation has the power to change lives, which is important as one in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year.

The more conversations we have, the better life is for everyone. Talking about mental health reduces stigma, helping to create supportive communities where we can talk openly about mental health and feel empowered to seek help when we need it.

Start a conversation

If someone does open up about their mental health, you might not know what to say. But it doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a big difference.

There is no right way to talk about mental health. But these tips can help make sure you’re approaching it in a helpful way.

Ask questions and listen

Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgmental, like “how does that affect you?” or “what does it feel like?”

Think about the time and place

Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. However, don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off!

Don’t try and fix it

It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time but try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.

Treat them the same

When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.

Be patient

No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time.

There are more top tips on the Time to Talk website.

Cllr Christine Bannon, Knowsley Council Cabinet Member for Health, said:

“We all need to look after our mental health and by talking and listening to others it can really help improve our mental health, so please make time in your day for a conversation not just this Time to Talk Day but every day. You never know your kind words may help someone who could be struggling due to the cost of living crisis or a relationship breakdown.”

She added:

“Conversations really do have the power to change lives. Talking openly may lead someone who is currently experiencing difficulties to open up about it, and they may need some support, as sensitive conversations may bring up difficult things. There are lots of places to which you can go or direct people for help.


“There’s also support available 24/7 for anyone in mental health crisis and in need of urgent help.”

The following agencies can offer support to help look after your own mental health or if you are concerned about someone you know.

Adult support helplines and services

  • Shout – offers confidential 24/7 text messaging support for times when you need immediate support. Trained volunteers can help with issues such as stress, anxiety and depression and will work with you to take your next steps towards feeling better. Text the word “REACH” to 85258.  Visit www.giveusashout.org
  • Samaritans – a safe place to talk 24/7 about whatever is troubling you. Call 116 123.  Visit www.samaritans.org/
  • Talking Therapies – free NHS therapy for people with common mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, to help you change the way you feel by changing the way you think.  Online therapy available 24/7, with weekly online support from your therapist. Six-week course also available to help you to develop skills to manage your mood.  Visit merseycare.nhs.uk  and search talking therapies.
  • Listening Ear – provides counselling support for people of all ages. Call 0151 488 6648 Visit https://listening-ear.co.uk
  • Silver Line – free, confidential telephone service for those aged 55 and over, provides friendship, conversation and support 24/7. Call 0800 470 8090 or visit thesilverline.org.uk/
  • AMPARO – free confidential support for anyone affected by suicide. Call 0330 088 9255 or visit amparo.org.uk/
  • StayAlive app – for those at risk of suicide and for people worried about someone. Suicide prevention resource which provides information and tools to help you stay safe in crisis including a safety plan and LifeBox where people can upload images or videos that remind them of their reasons to stay alive.  Download free on both iOS and Android devices.
  • Every Mind Matters NHS website – offers expert advice, practical tips and personalised action plans from the NHS to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing. Visit  Every Mind Matters – NHS (www.nhs.uk)
  • Citizens Advice Knowsley provides free, impartial, independent and confidential advice to residents of Knowsley visit: Home – Citizens Advice Knowsley

 Support for younger people – children and young people support

  • Kooth – provides online support and counselling, information, advice and support for young people in secondary schools. Visit kooth.com or speak to your child’s school.
  • Listening Ear – provides face to face counselling support for people of all ages including children and young people.Call 0151 488 6648.  Visit  https://listening-ear.co.uk
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) works with young people up to the age of 18 who have emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties which are causing difficulties in their school, family or social life. Speak to your GP, health visitor, social worker or school health advisor who will be able to refer you into this specialist service.
  • Papyrus is for people under the age of 35 who are experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned about a young person. Call 0800 068 4141 or visit papyrus-uk.org
  • DiAmond – for children and young people who have been affected by domestic abuse and require support for their mental and emotional wellbeing.  Call 0151 488 6648. Visit Emotional Support for Domestic Abuse – Listening Ear Merseyside (listening-ear.co.uk).
  • Butterflies – for children and young people who require mental and emotional support following bereavement, loss or separation.  Call 0151 488 6648. Visit Affected by Bereavement & Loss – Listening Ear Merseyside (listening-ear.co.uk).
  • ADDvanced Solutionsprovides support for children, young people and their families living with neurodevelopmental conditions, specific learning difficulties and associated mental health needs. Call 0151 486 1788. Visit addvancedsolutions.co.uk
  • Young Minds website – offers lots of practical tips and advice and real-life stories from other young people who have struggled with their mental health. Parents and carers who are concerned about their child’s mental health up to the age of 25 can get advice from the confidential helpline – call 0808 802 5544.   You can also access webchat and email advice via the website youngminds.org.uk

Crisis mental health support

If you or someone you know are in mental health crisis and no longer feel able to cope or be in control of your situation and need urgent help, you can call the NHS Mental Health crisis line. NHS staff will then support you to get the help you need. Available 24/7. Call freephone 0800 051 1508.

For young people up to the age of 18 experiencing emotional, behavioural or mental health difficulties which are causing difficulties in their school, family or social life, help is available 24/7 by calling 01744 415640 (if registered with a GP in Knowsley, Halton, St Helens or Warrington).