Time to Talk Day

The interconnectedness of the internet is amazing.  It is a kind of model of the interconnectedness of the world in general.

How various issues are brought to our attention perhaps does not matter as much as the fact that we become aware of them.

I first heard about a website called Time to Change from the arts organisation responsible for the record-breaking pompom sheep project.

The views I express here are my own.  I am not a health professional.

Today is Time to talk day– the chattering classes never stop, do they?  But what about the taboo subjects?  The elephants in the room?

Time to Talk is an awareness campaign about mental health issues.  It seems to be a worldwide problem that mental illness is not taken as seriously as physical illness.  Patients may be locked away and “out of sight is out of mind”.

In the case of a physical illness, its effects on the patient and their family and friends are usually obvious.

For the family and friends of those suffering with a mental illness, life may be difficult.  It is often hard to know how the changes in a patient are caused – whether it is the illness or the medication.  Patients react differently to the commonly prescribed drugs and it is important that the best treatments are found in each case.

Family members may be confused, embarrassed and even ashamed of having a mentally ill person in their midst.  They have their own lives to live and the added worry and responsibility of making sure that the patient is properly cared for and treated.

There is a lot of ignorance about mental illness amongst people who have not been affected by it in any way.  There is prejudice that it is somehow the fault of the patient that they have become ill.  People may treat a person who has been ill as if they are incompetent.  In fact there are many people who have experienced mental illness, who have strengths and abilities which ‘normal’ people may not expect.  It is very much a case of not judging a book by its cover.

Mental health problems include depression, anxiety, OCD and addiction as well as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Time to Talk is helping to bring these issues out into the open.  The Twitter and TV campaigns are educating people about ways they can support a depressed person in particular.

There has been a heart-warming story about the reunion between a young man, who was about to jump off a bridge and the passer-by who talked him out of it.  Railway companies are training people to watch out for those who may be intending to jump in front of a train.

There are organisations to help the families of those who have not been helped in these ways and have taken their own lives.  They have many emotions to deal with.

So if you have never really thought about these issues or if you think you are not at risk of mental illness, please stop and think.  It can affect anyone, absolutely anyone, and “It’s time to talk”.