Take time to talk to people struggling with mental health, campaigners urge

Mental health campaigners are encouraging more people to reach out to those they believe are struggling ahead of a dedicated Time to Talk day next month.

Research by See Me, which works to end mental health discrimination, suggests only a quarter of young people would tell someone if they are finding it difficult to cope.

It says employers and those working in the education and health sectors can help by ensuring those who are struggling are treated fairly.

See Me’s survey of 1,455 young people found less than half (40%) would be willing to speak to their manager about their mental health.

More than two-thirds (69%) said they had witnessed others being treated differently or unfairly because of mental health issues.

Ahead of a national Time to Talk day on February 7, campaigners highlighted the case of Jenn Barnes from Glasgow, who said sharing her struggles with her parents and friends had helped her when she felt she could not cope.

Jenn Barnes
Jenn Barnes said there are times when she does not cope well with life (See Me/PA)

Ms Barnes, whose brother Calum took his own life in 2017, said: “I kept everything bottled up for so long that I was at breaking point. I didn’t want to be here and thought life would be better off without me in it.

“It ended up with me having an episode in a shop where I broke down on the floor in tears. I was then taken to hospital. I told my mum and dad what I had been feeling and they got my friends involved.

“If I hadn’t spoken to them I might not be here today, things were really bad.

“On the outside I was happy go lucky, but I don’t think anyone knew how I was feeling. After I was in hospital I had two close friends that I confided in. They probably had no idea what to do.

“But they just asked how I was and listened. Once I started to talk about how I was feeling, it was like a flood of everything that poured out. They were really good at listening and that’s what I needed.”

Jenn and Calum Barnes
Jenn lost her brother Calum in 2017 (See Me/PA)

The 31-year-old said she hopes anyone in a similar situation is able to find help.

She said: “I’d have a conversation with anyone now if that helps them. Bad things are still happening to people, but if we all keep talking then slowly things will get better.”

See Me director Calum Irving said: “People with mental health problems face unacceptably high levels of stigma and discrimination.

“We all have mental health and any of us could go through a period where we struggle. In these times we need the help and support of those around us to give us the best chance of recovery.

“So we want to see Scotland come together to talk about mental health this year, starting with Time to Talk day.”

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