People across Renfrewshire are being encouraged to get talking as one of their new year’s resolutions – as research reveals that a quarter of Scots don’t feel comfortable speaking about their own mental health.

The research from See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, shows that there are still barriers to people speaking up about how they’re feeling.

To change that, See Me are calling for people to get involved in this year’s Time to Talk Day.

Run in Scotland by See Me, Time to Talk Day is the UK’s biggest mental health conversation. Taking place on Thursday 3rd February 2022, it’s the day that friends, families, communities, and workplaces come together to talk, listen and change lives.

After a fully digital day in 2021, Time to Talk Day will this year run as a mix of online and in-person events and activities, in line with Government guidance, to get as many people as possible talking about mental health.

See Me say that speaking up 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.

See Me volunteer spokesperson Jamie Donoghue has struggled with anxiety and agoraphobia since the age of 18. For him, a simple conversation was key to getting the help and support he needed.

Jamie said: “For the longest time, I didn’t really understand exactly what I had. I didn’t discuss it with anyone. The day that things started to get better was the day I went to my mum and said, ‘Mum, I’ve got a problem here, there’s something going on, I’ve got an issue.’

“So much of my life was controlled by anxiety. When I first spoke about it, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. The moment I talked about it, I also started losing the stigma over it. And every extra person I told about it, I felt a little less shame about what I had, I felt like I was taking ownership of it.

“For Time to Talk Day, I’d encourage everyone to have a conversation – even just ask a friend how they are. If you notice someone who’s maybe cancelling plans a bit more, maybe you’ll notice slight differences in them – quite often, there’s a lot going on under the surface. I found it quite difficult to pluck up the courage to talk. So I’d really like people to take the opportunity to perhaps not just speak to others if you’re struggling, but speak to your friends if you think there’s something wrong with them.”

See Me aims to support communities up and down the country to have more mental health conversations than ever before.

From coffee and conversation events to Zoom quizzes, workplace mental health awareness days to making plans to check in with a friend, there are lots of different ways for groups and individuals to get involved in this year’s campaign.

See Me director Wendy Halliday said: “We all have mental health, and any of us could go through a period where we struggle. So we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about mental health – whenever they like.

“With this year’s Time to Talk Day, we’re looking at all the different ways you can start a conversation on mental health, whether that’s in person, over the phone or online, but with a real focus as well on what we can all do to make sure we’re listening, not just talking.

“By opening up or offering a listening ear, we’re making real progress towards breaking down the stigma that continues to exist around mental health. However you do it, have a conversation about mental health.”

You can access tools to plan your own Time to Talk Day event, download an activity pack, request resources or check out what’s happening nationwide on the See Me website at: www.seemescotland.org/seeus/campaigns/time-to-talk.

Main photo: Me volunteer spokesperson Jamie Donoghue