250,000 adults in the East have not spoken to anyone about worsening mental health

Time to Talk Day 2022 

Time to Talk Day wants to encourage people to open up and talk about their mental health - Credit: Andrew Neel/Pexels

More than one in six adults surveyed in the East of England, who say their mental health got worse during the pandemic, haven’t spoken to anyone about it during this time - equivalent to around 277,000 people.

More than one-third, 38%, of all respondents in the region reported a worsening in their mental health during the pandemic.

Of those who have been concerned about the mental health of someone they care about, almost one-third, 28%, say they haven’t tried to talk to them about it. 

More people were in hospital under the Mental Health Act than previous years.

NSFT say offer a listening ear rather than a helping hand when talking to someone about mental health - Credit: PA

The poll was conducted as part of Time to Talk Day, February 3, a national day of conversations about mental health.

Encouragingly, of those surveyed in the East of England who have talked to someone, just over two-thirds, 67%, report at least one positive conversation, with feeling supported and feeling less alone the major reasons why it was positive.

More than half of all survey respondents, 61%, agreed that overall, it’s getting easier to talk about mental health.

mental health

Talking about mental health can be difficult, but just asking how someone is can make a large difference - Credit: EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA/Pexels

How to talk about mental health

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Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust say there is no right way to talk about mental health. However, these tips can help make sure you’re approaching it in a supportive and helpful way.

Don't try and fix it

It can be hard to see someone you care about struggling without stepping in to give solutions. It is likely they just need to talk right now. Offer a listening ear rather than a helping hand.

Ask questions and actively listen

Asking open questions can give the person space to express exactly how they are feeling. Actively listening will help you to understand their experience better, giving you the knowledge to support their needs. Listen to understand rather than respond.

Keep it simple

A simple “How are you doing?” is enough to open a conversation. If someone does open about their mental health, it is not always easy to know what to say but just being there for someone can make a big difference. Allow them to lead. The simplest gestures can be the most significant.

Show kindness and compassion

An act of kindness or gesture of compassion can go a long way. Show people you care. If you are struggling, show kindness and compassion to yourself.

Signpost

Advise or reach out for professional support.

The Combat to Coffee team are opening a new cafe in Bury St Edmunds

Combat to Coffee cafes in Suffolk offer people from the community to come in and have a chat if they need one - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Previous research by Co-op, Mind, SAMH and Inspire showed the vital role of community for mental wellbeing.

One in four respondents, 28%, to the national Together Through Tough Times survey said that non-judgemental spaces in the community where they could talk and listen to others would support their wellbeing.

If you’re suffering from anxiety or depression you can access talking therapy services from Wellbeing Suffolk. Anyone can self-refer online or by calling 0300 123 1503.

Norfolk and Waveney Mind are supporting Time to Talk Day by hosting a creative writing session on Saturday February 5, at Heacham Safe Haven.

It will include poetry, story writing, letters to loved ones and thank you cards while discussing mental health, support networks, friends and relationships.

Andrew Povey, Recovery Worker at Norfolk and Waveney Mind, said: “We all have mental health and by talking about it we can support ourselves and others. Time to Talk Day gives us all an opportunity to reach out, talk, listen and find support and, after the last two years, this is arguably more important than ever.

"We know that many people have yet to have their first conversation about mental health so we are pleased to be offering opportunities in our local community for people to come and take the first step. However you do it, reach out and start a conversation about mental health.” 

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity, said: “We all have mental health and by talking about it we can support ourselves and others. The last two years have had a huge impact on us all and we know that talking can help us feel less alone, more able to cope and encouraged to seek support if we need to."