One in four of us struggle with mental health problems. This means that almost everyone will share a close bond with someone affected. Family. Friends. Work colleagues. It’s immediate, it’s personal, it often goes unmentioned. That’s because mental health issues aren’t the easiest thing to talk about. Time to Talk Day (7th February) aims to change that.
One of the most effective ways we can help is by starting a conversation. There’s still a stigma surrounding mental health, and that stigma thrives in silence.
Silence allows stereotypes to flourish in the absence of real stories about the people around us. Silence is the bit of ourselves we hold back that prevents us from connecting and identifying with those around us. Silence is the first obstacle we have to navigate as we look to recover. Sometimes that obstacle is so big it seems impossible to recover.
But all it takes to make a difference is for that silence to be broken. That’s why, this year, Time to Talk Day is encouraging us to start a conversation. Whether it’s a quick phone call to check in, a cuppa and a few sandwiches (we’ve heard Honest Crust’s are pretty good) or joining a friend to walk the dog, Time to Talk Day is about creating the time and space required to break that silence and de-stigmatise mental health issues.
Volunteering gets people talking, too
Approximately four in ten people in the UK volunteer their time to a charity or public organisation. Of this number, 77% of people reported that volunteering improved their mental health. In particular, it helped combat loneliness and isolation. It connected people who would have otherwise felt alienated and had no one to talk to.
Our partners at Fareshare have first-hand experience of this. They're a fantastic food waste charity that takes surplus and unused food and makes sure it gets to those who need it most. And they've got a great volunteer programme that often means as much to the volunteers as it does to those they help.
Hasan has volunteered with Fareshare for over a decade now. He’s committed so much time because volunteering “makes me feel like a big part of the community… we get to know so many local faces. The relationships I’ve made feel like friendships.”
What’s most striking about the benefits of volunteering is that they’re twofold. Not only are you likely to improve your own wellbeing, but you can also offer your time up to organisations who help those with mental health problems. Its win-win – high fives all round!
Diet can also play a role
We know, we're a company that produces healthy sandwiches, so we're extremely conscious that diet is one of the many complex factors that can influence an individual’s mental health. Studies suggest that a diet that’s rich in fruit, vegetables and nutrients is likely to result in higher levels of wellbeing.
Though becoming a vegetarian overnight isn’t going to solve everything, if healthier eating is implemented alongside other lifestyle changes, such as exercise and meditation, a new diet can have a positive impact.
Mental health is complicated. There's no quick fix. There's just doing what we can. There's eating well, doing good, talking to those around you and, most importantly, listening to what others have to say. This February 7th, get involved with Time to Talk Day, lend an ear to those who need it, and make a difference.