People across Renfrewshire are invited to say what they really mean when asked how they are, and have an open conversation about mental health.
See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, is urging everyone start this with Time to Talk Day, on Thursday 1 February.
The programme is asking Scots to get thinking about how they can start a conversation about mental health stigma – particularly in workplaces, schools, colleges, communities and with friends and family, ahead of the big day next month.
Time to Talk Day is the UK’s biggest conversation on mental health stigma, helping to break down barriers and reduce the stigma which prevents so many from asking for help when they need it.
Last year, there was a mix of online and in-person events and activities across the country, to get as many people as possible talking about mental health, and is why See Me is hoping this year is an even bigger success.
See Me volunteer Chik Duncan found that being open about talking about his mental health felt much easier than trying to hide it. Chik, who has a diagnosis of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), said that being honest felt “a lot easier than not talking about it”.
He said: “At the very beginning, when I started to become unwell, it was quite gradual. I certainly didn’t understand what was happening to me. It wasn’t so much that I was denying I was unwell or that I was telling anyone I was ‘fine’ – I just wasn’t telling anybody anything.
“I would be going out and about with friends, and quite often I would be late to things. But I wouldn’t give the real reason. I would said: ‘I got held up’.”
Photo: See Me volunteer Chik Duncan
Chik, from Rutherglen, went on to explain it wasn’t until he had the help of friends and seeing a psychologist that he opened up about his struggles and felt “such a huge relief”.
He said: “I fairly quickly realised that being open about my mental health was so much easier than trying to hide it. Because hiding it, you’re putting yourself under more stress, more pressure, and OCD is an anxiety-related condition, so it only makes it worse.
“I’ve also found that since then, so many potentially awkward situations have been de-fused by me going: ‘Oh, sorry, I can’t do that. I have OCD.’
“It takes a lot of the pressure off of you.”
Now, Chik is calling on people across Scotland to take part in Time to Talk Day and have a conversation about mental health on Thursday 1 February.
He said: “The more we the more we talk about it, the more we normalise the fact that people have different conditions and that’s likely to reduce stigma. I know some conversations that I have had have been successful in reducing stigma.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about any issues you might have going on.”
See Me director Wendy Halliday said: “Time to Talk Day provides an ideal chance to ask someone how they are, and encourage them to really say how they feel.
“By talking about mental health, we can challenge attitudes and outdated views – reducing stigma and creating supportive communities where talking about mental health can feel empowering.”
Resources and activity packs are available now from the See Me website to help you start planning how you’ll mark Time to Talk Day 2024. Find out more at www.seemescotland.org.
Headline photo:See Me’s Time to Talk Day 2023 event in Glasgow