10 February 2014

Time to talk

Last Thursday, 6 February, was the first Time to Talk Day, which was organised as part of Time to Change's ongoing campaign to reduce mental health stigma, and which I flagged up in a post last month.

I was keen to spread the word, so asked if this could be featured on our intranet home page at work. As my employer is a large London Borough, this had the potential to reach a wide audience, so I was delighted when they agreed.

I was already armed with a small pack of Time to Change materials to distribute to colleagues: leaflets, postcards, badges and a couple of pens.

On the big day, I put on one of the badges and applied a temporary Time to Talk tattoo to the back of my left hand, to attract attention and get people talking. 

I began by emailing 80-90 of my immediate colleagues about the campaign, which provoked some interesting responses.

One wrote about the 'embarrassed faces in the office' when she admitted to having post-natal depression. A condition which, she said, 'You would have thought would have relatively little stigma attached.'

Images courtesy of Time to Change
Another commented, 'None of us are "experts" at what life throws at us or our friends, but it doesn't mean we can't do something to help.'

And yet another stopped me in the corridor to tell me about two family members, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which had significantly, and detrimentally, affected their lives. She said that she had always been open in telling people about their mental illness, but other relatives had discouraged her, fearing that this somehow reflected badly on them. 'We can see a broken arm, but no one understands if you have a broken brain,' she said.

There were some rather more comical interactions. 

The manager of one of our on-site cafés asked me if I'd had a good night out. I had no idea what she was talking about until she pointed to my tattoo, which she'd taken for a nightclub stamp.

And I realised, too late, that this might have caught the attention of the interviewee I served with a glass of water; I hope she didn't lose her train of thought as a result.

As the day wore on, I gave leaflets to people who came to me with work queries, handed out my blog details to anyone who didn't already know about it, and awarded my two precious pens as 'prizes' for the most inspiring email responses.

The principles of this campaign can, of course, be applied beyond the mental health arena.

Towards the end of the afternoon, colleague no. 2 above told me, in a follow-up email, about her efforts to help a recently bereaved friend. She said 'That's why I like the Time to Talk campaign - it encourages me not to be intimidated or silenced by the magnitude of someone else's suffering and it also puts value on those small gestures that might not seem earth-shattering from my perspective, but could mean more than I could ever imagine to someone else.'

I couldn't have put it better myself.



5 comments:

ocdtalk said...

Wow, you certainly participated in "Time to Talk" and did a lot of good in one day. Thank you for encouraging others to be open with their mental health issues!1953 2282539

Anonymous said...

Please can you tell us more about your tattoo?

Thanks for your blog, I love to read new posts.

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks for the lovely feedback, Tina. I was surprised, but delighted, by how many people took the opportunity to chat with me.

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks for the support, ocdtalk. People are still picking up the postcards and talking about them, which is great!

Helen Barbour said...

Anon, apologies for the delay in replying - my system had pushed your comment into a spam folder.

Thanks for your feedback. You can view the tattoo here: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/sites/default/files/CropVERSIO4_0.png. Time to Change had a limited supply available during their recent campaign, which has now run out, I'm afraid.