See Me has said talking about your mental health can have an important impact on your life.
Just over a quarter of Scots who have had problems with their mental health for the first time during the pandemic have not spoken to anyone about it, new research has found.
The survey of 1,001 people in Scotland also revealed that nearly one in five people (19 percent) who were already struggling with a mental health problem when the pandemic hit said they haven’t spoken to anyone about their mental health since the pandemic started.
The poll was conducted as part of Time to Talk Day, a national day of conversations about mental health for See Me - Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
Taking place on Thursday, it’s the day that friends, families, communities, and workplaces come together to talk, listen and change lives.
The research shows that conversations like these are important. The poll, which surveyed people both with and without experience of mental health problems, showed that 44 percent of people reported worsening mental health since the pandemic began in March 2020.
Encouragingly, the majority of those who had spoken about their mental health found that this had been a positive experience (71 percent) – showing that there is real power in opening up – and 62 percent agreed that it is getting easier to talk about mental health.
See Me volunteer Angela McCrimmon, from West Lothian, says that opening up about her mental health has had an important impact on her life.
Angela, who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, says: “A lot of my recovery and freedom came when I started to open up and be honest and realise that there is no shame in living with a mental illness. It's part of who I am.
“My advice, when it comes to talking about your mental health, is not to be afraid of being honest. We need to help remove shame and stigma, so tell your story without fear of what others may think.”
Fellow volunteer Tommy Kelly, from North Ayrshire, understands the power of conversation after he started to struggle with an eating disorder following the death of his mother. Opening up to his father was a milestone in his recovery.
He said: “For me to open up to him, and for him to say to me, 'Tommy, I love you with all my heart. I've lost your mum and I don't want to lose you,' - that was massively powerful. Opening up and about your problems is the biggest step to recovering.”
Time to Talk Day helps to create more supportive communities where we can talk openly about mental health and feel empowered, like Tommy and Angela, to seek help when we need it.
This year’s Time to Talk Day will see a range of activities and events take place across Scotland, with workplaces, schools, community groups, sports clubs, friends and family doing their bit to start the conversation on mental health, with a focus on not just talking, but listening too.
See Me director Wendy Halliday said: “The figures show that there is still real stigma attached to opening up about how you’re feeling, and we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about mental health in a way that suits them.
“I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity to have those important conversations, to talk and listen, this Time to Talk Day.”