Time to Talk is the latest campaign from Time to Change. I thought I’d write a blog about why I think its important to support this campaign.
A while ago I felt completely unable to be open about having a mental health problem. I felt unable to mention to people that I was struggling and I was scared that if I was open about my mental health status I would lose my career. I struggled for many years before seeking help for the issues that were taking over my life.
Even after I was forced into getting professional help by circumstances, I still found it hard to tell friends and relatives and work colleagues what was going on in my life and more importantly inside my head. This meant that even small struggles became huge, as I felt so alone with what was going on.
I carried on in this way for about two years before it really caught up with me and affected my life. I was working and just about keeping my head above water when I had a major depressive episode. Work became impossible and it was picked up by my boss and led to me being in a position where I was being asked to resign. It was at this point that the extent of my mental health problems came out to a number of people (my boss was aware of these before this but not the extent it affected me).
In the end I had to leave my job and I felt so alone. I had been off sick due to the depression for three months already and during this time had felt that most of my colleagues just didn’t know what to say to me and so had avoided me, This wasn’t with all my colleagues. I feel I need to say this as I had a couple of colleagues who were absolutely amazing with their support of me when they found out the details. Without them I would have been lost completely.
I feel that if I had been able to help my colleagues by giving them somewhere to go to see the information or if attitudes had been different my experience of leaving my job may have been easier and may not even of happened as it is possible I may have talked about my problems before they over took me.
Time to Change’s campaign is all about breaking down the stigma so that mental health is able to be talked about as easily as physical health is. When you think of a colleague who has been diagnosed with cancer I think it is probably easier to talk to them than a colleague who has been diagnosed with depression. Cancer is a known quantity and it is something where the taboos have been broken down over the years. Mental health needs to have the same taboos broken down so that people don’t feel they have to avoid it in a conversation. Also so that people who are suffering feel they can discuss what is effecting them without fear that they are being judged. If you asked people to be honest they would say they would never judge a person with cancer whereas with mental health many would have preconceptions that they would judge the person on.
For these reasons I am definitely supporting Time to Change’s Time to Talk campaign and I ask you to do the same. For more information on how to start a conversation go to http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health.