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  • Writer's pictureStamp it Our County Durham

North East supports Time to Talk Day 2022

People and voluntary sector organisations across the North East will be supporting Time to Talk Day today (Thursday 3 February) by holding events, spreading the word on social media, sharing their own story and encouraging people to reach out to loved ones. Survey data released today shows that just over one in three (34%) over-16s in the North East say their mental health has got worse during the pandemic, while national figures show that one in four respondents (25 per cent) who have experienced a worsening of their mental health for the first time during the pandemic have yet to have a conversation about it.

The poll was conducted as part of Time to Talk Day, a national day of conversations about mental health. The aim is to spark millions of conversations about mental health in communities, schools, homes, workplaces and online across the UK. Encouragingly, almost two thirds (63 per cent) of respondents in the North East agree that overall, it’s getting easier to talk about mental health.

Local organisations such as the Stamp It Out Partnership Hub in County Durham are getting involved in Time to Talk Day. The Hub, a mental health anti-stigma campaign, is focussing its Time to Talk Day around Anti Stigma Kid (ASK), a superhero created by Stamp It Out trustee and Anti Stigma Ambassador Peter Swan. The comic launched in 2020 and followed Anti Stigma Kid as he travelled around County Durham challenging misconceptions about conditions like OCD and depression. Time to Talk Day will see the launch of the second instalment, which looks at mental health and its relationship with other issues like race, sexuality and gender. The comic will be distributed to schools, employers and community groups on Time to Talk Day.

Anti-Stigma Kid’s creator, Peter, said: “I created Anti-Stigma Kid so that a serious message could be conveyed in a visual medium accessible to people of all ages. I believe that the colourful graphics can help capture people’s attention and interest and show people that stigma associated with poor mental health can have very real consequences. These comics will be distributed at Stamp It Out events and will be left at various community locations including libraries, doctors surgeries and community centres. The comic gives the reader ideas about how they can themselves help to challenge stigma and discrimination.”

The Stamp It Out Partnership Hub in Country Durham are also involved in a number of other Time to Talk Day activities including a screening of I, Daniel Blake by the charity Waddington Street Centre, a get-together for Anti Stigma Ambassadors and sharing resources with voluntary sector organisations across the county.

Chris Affleck, Stamp It Out Partnership Hub Coordinator, 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 this Time to Talk Day.”

The activities are being supported with a grant from Co-op. Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value at the Co-op, said: “It’s never been a more important time for us to be able to talk about how we are feeling, however, it can still be hard to speak up about our mental wellbeing. Our research has shown the vital role played by our communities in kickstarting these conversations, giving us the chance to open up whilst we are out and about. We know many people are still waiting for the right time to do that, so we’re encouraging everyone to give it a go this Time to Talk Day.”

Time to Talk Day 2022 is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in England, See Me with SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) in Scotland, Inspire and Change Your Mind in Northern Ireland and Time to Change Wales. It is being delivered in partnership with Co-op.

The partners are supporting communities across the UK to encourage mental health conversations by providing free resources, including tips on how to have the conversation, and running a UK-wide awareness campaign.

For information about Time to Talk Day, including tips on starting the conversation, visit: Follow the conversation on social media #TimeToTalk.

Article by Aimee Aveyard

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