One in four Brits find work the best place to speak about mental health

One in four Brits find work the best place to speak about mental health

As part of this year’s Time To Talk Day, research conducted by conducted by Mind, Co-op, 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, which polled over 5,000 people reveals that one in four (27%) full time employees find work the best space to help them to speak about their mental health — higher than local cafes (21%), the pub (17%), gym (17%) or library (9%). Despite increases in hybrid and remote working as a result of the pandemic, many of us still find a chat with colleagues a great way to help our mental health.

Work is clearly a vital source of mental health support for many. Two thirds (65%) of retirees surveyed never make space to speak about mental health, compared to a quarter (26%) of full time employees surveyed and a third (31%) of part time employees.

People in full time employment are slightly more likely to deem conversations about wellbeing to be important — 82% say it is important to speak about mental health, compared to 77% of the general population.

Time to Talk Day aims to spark millions of conversations about mental health in workplaces, communities, schools, homes, and online across the UK. We know that stigma still prevails, but by changing the way we speak and think about mental health, we can challenge this.

Jaabir Ramlugon, 37, from East London was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) in 2016. Thanks in part to therapy, he now only experiences traits of it. He sometimes makes space to talk about his mental health in the workplace, but due to the cost-of-living crisis he doesn’t meet or talk to friends as often anymore. He says:

“At work when people ask how I am, instead of just saying ‘I’m fine’, I’m more honest about it. Thankfully I work in an environment where that’s okay. It’s a blessing, because my previous experiences haven’t been like that.“

Yet there is always more to be done. A quarter (25%) of respondents who are employed full time would welcome more information in their place of work — as is available through the Time To Talk Day campaign.

Time to Talk Day 2023 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 as part of a shared ambition to reach those who wouldn’t usually engage with mental health support.

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. Every conversation matters and people are encouraged to make space in the day for a conversation about mental health. Whether that is texting a friend, chatting to a colleague or neighbour, or raising awareness in your community. This is a chance for all of us to talk, to listen, and to change lives.

The cost of poor mental health to UK employers has been estimated to be between £53bn and £56bn, according to the Mental Health and Employers Report published in 2022 by Deloitte, with presenteeism, the cost of not performing at our best due to ill health, making up the majority of this significant cost.

Nick Speight, Co-op People Director, MBE said: “With the cost-of-living crisis, and the ongoing impacts from the pandemic, it’s never been more important for us to be able to talk about how we’re feeling. Our research shows one in four find work the best space to help them to speak about their mental health, highlighting the vital role of employers supporting their colleagues, and getting behind activity like Time to Talk Day to help kickstart conversations.”

Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive of Mind commented: “It’s vital we make space in the day for a conversation about mental health. Yet so many of us are finding that looking after our mental health has taken a back seat. Worryingly we fear stigma if we speak up, we can no longer afford to access the things or places that keep us mentally well, or we don’t want to be a burden on others. We know that talking about our mental health and listening to others about their experiences can help us feel less alone, more able to cope and encouraged to seek support if we need to. That’s why it’s time to talk and to listen this Time to Talk Day.”

Mark Winstanley, Chief Executive of Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Talking about our mental health with someone we trust can help us feel less isolated and encourage us to reach out for support. It’s even more important during the difficult times we’re living through, and we hope this Time to Talk Day sparks millions of conversations about mental health.”

Wendy Halliday, Director of See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, commented: “We all have mental health, and big issues such as the cost-of-living crisis and other daily struggles can make it hard. The figures show that there is still real stigma attached to opening up about how you’re feeling, and we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about mental health in a way that suits them. This Time To Talk Day speak up, reach out, and have those conversations.”

Lowri Wyn Jones, Programme Manager for Time to Change Wales said: “Unfortunately, stigma is still an issue and there are worries that the cost of living crisis could make this worse. This is why we are urging everyone to use Time to Talk Day as an opportunity to break down barriers and have real and meaningful conversations about mental health.”

Kerry Anthony MBE, Group CEO of Inspire, said: “This research is really encouraging. It shows us that people see the value in having conversations about mental health. Yes, many still struggle to do so because of a fear of stigma or discrimination but we’re very pleased to see how many of those surveyed want to develop their understanding of the issues. That’s why Time to Talk Day is so important. It offers us all the chance to refocus on the strength and importance of asking, talking and listening.”

In addition to supporting Time to Talk Day 2023, Co-op colleagues, members and customers have raised over £8m for Mind, the Scottish Association for Mental Health and Inspire. The partnership is funding mental wellbeing services in over 50 local communities across the UK. Over 22,000 people have received support from the services, so far.

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

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