Time to Talk Day: Let's talk mental health

Posted by Andy Hawkings on 30 January, 2023

Talking about how you are feeling can be one of the hardest things you can do. But having a conversation about your wellbeing is so important. Thursday 2nd February is Time to Talk Day –  the chance to get talking about mental health. The day is all about creating supportive communities by having conversations with family, friends, or colleagues about mental health, and the importance of looking after your health and wellbeing. Half of every conversation is listening and letting the people have space to talk.

One of TALKWORKS’ Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners, Andy Hawkings, shares his thoughts on why we need to normalise conversations around our wellbeing so that we can be open about our difficulties:

I want to start by sharing a poem from “Four Weddings and a Funeral” with you. Why? Well, Auden’s poem conveys viscerally- overwhelming loss, tragic grief and unrelenting pessimism. Grief and loss come in many forms: a relationship breakdown; a bereavement; a job which compromises your integrity or values; an illness; a feeling of isolation; amongst many others: 

“Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come…
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Having worked in healthcare and education for the last fifteen years, I have seen all forms of grief, distress and wellbeing concerns. That sounds dramatic, but it is certainly not meant to be. Nor should it be. Indeed, it is my genuine hope that we can normalise any wellbeing concerns or distress.  Why? Because it is when we accept our fragility and what it is to struggle that we can open conversations and address the concerns we have. 

Working as a Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at TALKWORKS, I am impressed when people come to see me before their mental health concerns have become so pervasive that they are seriously impacting their day-to-day lives and relationships. It takes great courage and commitment to recognise the need to reach out for support. It is from this point, that we can establish a care pathway to suit the needs of the individual whether that mean receiving my direct support or not. Establishment of the appropriate care pathway is paramount and the foundation upon which to build a better future upon. 

'Time to Talk Day' is here to raise further awareness of the need to be open about our struggles and it is something I wholeheartedly endorse. It is an opportunity; an opportunity to be proactive with our struggles.

With this in mind; I leave you with part of an alternative poem by WH Auden, detailing what is to be human, accepting, flawed and yet still carry hope:

“Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Andy H

If you are finding things hard and would like to speak to someone about the difficulties you are experiencing, you can talk to TALKWORKS. Our NHS therapists are here to listen to you and can work with you to help you to feel better again. We operate across the whole of Devon, outside Plymouth, and are here for adults (age 18+) struggling with low mood, difficulties sleeping, stress or worry. You don’t need to see a GP to access our service, you can self-refer to TALKWORKS by calling 0300 555 3344 or filling out an online self-referral form.

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