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admin 20.05.2015

Mental illness cannot be cured with a cup of tea, but one can represent a small, significant step on the road to recovery.
This is the message behind Time to Talk Day, taking place today, which encourages people in Britain to be more open when it comes to mental health.
This could mean chatting about your problem over a cuppa, or asking someone about theirs on social media – those behind the campaign want to generate 1m ‘conversations’ across the country. It is organised by Time to Change, the largest programme in England tackling the stigma and discrimination often associated with mental health. The first ever Time to Talk Day is part of the programme’s strategy to improve public attitudes to those with mental health problems and to empower sufferers to feel confident talking about the issue without fear of discrimination. Time to Talk Day will spread across schools, homes, workplaces and the internet today in a bid to show that openness is the answer. Things are slowly turning around, said Sue Baker, director of Time to Change, thanks to greater awareness in the media, more high-profile figures talking about their experiences and people realising that the issue affects someone close to them. Time to Change helps those suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses, including anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, depression and schizophrenia. Baker speaks from personal experience, having suffered with reactive depression 11 years ago.

She finally spoke to a family member about her situation (a ‘conversation that can save your life,’ she says), before telling her GP, after which she had counselling and therapy.
When it comes to the stigma that sufferers often face from others about their mental health, she said that ‘people often fear what they don’t understand’.
Time to Change also backs local mental health projects, such as the Reach Out Challenge, run by the Hear Us group in the London borough of Croydon. The project has worked with a number of organisations, including local fire brigade, police, hospitals and job centres, to help them improve the way they interact with people with mental health problems. Hear Us spokeswoman Jane White said: ‘Sadly, mental illness still carries a huge stigma, even in the 21st century. Another Time to Change project is Skiffle for Change, run by Sevenoaks Area Mind, which combines musicians – half of whom have experienced mental health problems, half of whom haven’t – in a skiffle orchestra that performs in towns in Kent. Co-ordinator Lucy Adams said: ‘There is strong evidence that there is a link between music and well-being and research shows that music brings us joy and can potentially sharpen our minds.
Talking is key, said Baker, as the alternative is to suffer silently. ‘There’s a cycle of silence,’ she said.
The initiative has been in place since 2007 and is run by mental health charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Your appetite and your sleeping patterns change very significantly, you have problems concentrating, you lose your enjoyment of everyday things. Baker said if people like her speak out about how they sought help, it gives others in a similar situation the confidence to do likewise. There have been some very damaging stereotypes attached to people with mental health problems. While other forms of prejudice, such as homophobia or racism, are now – quite rightly – widely frowned upon, discrimination against a person who is mentally ill is still all too common. I didn’t seek help and I didn’t speak out and I got so, so low that at one point I really didn’t value being alive any more, and I didn’t want to be alive any more.

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