A new survey has revealed that nearly a third of people in Bristol (28%) would feel uncomfortable asking someone close to them about their mental health problem. When asked why, the top reasons people gave were that they would worry that it would make the other person feel uncomfortable or embarrassed, that they wouldn’t know what to say, and that they wouldn’t feel that they help.
The results come as Time to Change, the mental health anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, launch a campaign ahead of World Mental Health Day (Saturday 10 October) to highlight the small things that can make a big difference when it comes to mental health. The survey conducted by YouGov, on behalf of Time to Change, aims to uncover the reasons why people might feel less comfortable broaching the topic of mental health and show that you don’t need to be an expert to support someone close with a mental health issue.
When asked how they would feel if someone close to them didn’t tell them that they had a mental health problem 57% of people said that they would understand, because if they had mental health problem they would feel awkward talking about it too. However, the survey also found that just over a third of people (36%) would feel upset if they found out that someone didn’t feel that they could tell them about their mental health problem.
As part of the latest campaign, a new film has been produced which focuses on people sharing their first experience of talking about mental health. These stories are also being played across the country with a series of radio ads. The campaign calls on the public to think about the small things that they can do, such as asking someone how they’re doing or inviting someone round for a cup of tea - small things can help to let people know that you’re thinking about them and can make a big difference to how they’re feeling. A collection of practical ideas are available on the Time to Change website, suggested by people with their own experience of mental health problems or someone who has supported a friend, family member or colleague.
Time to Change is working with local partners in Bristol to support anti-stigma work in the city. Bristol City Council, Bristol CCG, Bristol Community Access Support Service (CASS) and Bristol Mental Health will be promoting the campaign in the area with local champions who have experience of mental health problems.
Paul McAlary, 27 from Bristol who is one of the stars of the new campaign film talks about being there for his partner:
“I had mixed feeling about my partner’s mental illness when we first spoke about it. At first, I felt apprehensive about our future and the difficulties we may face as a couple. After these initial worries passed I saw his honesty as a strength, I didn’t see it as a weakness – it just opened a dialogue for us that we didn’t have before.
“When he was feeling unwell I would ask him what he wanted to do for the day whether that was a walk or catch a film. Depression isn’t the issue; we are not trying to get to the bottom of it. We are just trying to combat it together.”
"Mental health problems are an everyday issue for millions of us, yet our closest family, partners, friends and colleagues can still feel uncomfortable and ill-equipped to talk about it. Despite recent progress in starting to break down stigma, our latest survey shows that some people still worry about saying or doing the wrong thing so end up not talking about mental health at all. Asking someone how they are, sending a text or arranging to meet up are some of the small but very meaningful gestures that can make the world of difference. Having an open conversation about mental health is easier than people imagine, and our campaign shows people who had done just that, and the difference it has made to their lives."
- Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change