Time To Talk Day - there's just one thing I disagree with.

Posted by Michelle Morgan on

It's Time To Talk day today. Hopefully you've seen it somehow, somewhere. Did you take part? What did you do?
I had a short telephone conversation with a friend this morning. They have a small business and one of their team members tried to take their own life the night before last. Thankfully they are okay.
He wanted a sounding board, to help him feel confident in supporting the person, and more importantly, he wanted to know how to start the conversation with them, and keep it going.
Perhaps the most simple and valuable guidance I could offer, was to listen more than you talk and to not feel as though you need to have all the answers. 
As a result of the conversation we had, and the circumstances under which we had it, my friend is going to join my June Mental Health First Aid training (more below) and put another of his team on the training as well. It makes my heart sing when people find the courage to have difficult conversations.
Time To Talk is a beautifully simple campaign and message, pretty much most of which I support. I did though pick up a line in the campaign page's introduction that said; "If someone does open up about their mental health, we know it might not always feel easy to know what to say. But it doesn’t have to be awkward, and being there for someone can make a big difference..."  I agree with most of this, however, it won't come as a surprise to you perhaps, that I think it will almost always feel awkward at the beginning of a conversation about mental health, and even more so, just before one starts, if only for a fleeting moment, but let's face it, often for far longer.
This is what my book explores and explains - in short, it's because our survival instinct is kicking in. We're afraid of the response, what might happen next. It feels like a danger or threat directly against us, looming, but it's highly likely it isn't real danger.
You can't stop the awkward thoughts and feelings coming. It's natural. Once you understand and accept that you can then do something about it and work through the awkward feelings more quickly, knowing it really could make the biggest difference to you or to the person you are talking to (not to 'go on' about it, but my book shows you how).
If we accept it's going to be awkward, we can own those moments better, own our awkward and then we won't need to avoid the conversation, we'll go for it. It could make all the difference.
And the more we do it, the less awkward it becomes, maybe never disappearing completely, but certainly becoming easier to identify, manage and reframe, more quickly and more effectively.
So, whether today, tomorrow or next week, grab a cuppa, maybe some cake, accept it might be a little awkward and then unleash the Hero or Heroine within and ask someone 'how are you doing right now?'
Coffee by me, cake by Great British Bake Off Winner, David Atherton.

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