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Heads Together - It's Time To Talk

Heads Together - It's Time To Talk

As part of the Heads Together campaign, fronted by Princes William and Harry, February 6th 2020 marks Time To Talk Day, a bid to get the nation talking about mental health. The campaign is designed to highlight the importance of changing the way we think and act around mental illness and to persuade people to be more open about their own mental health struggles and ready to listen to those of others.

Organisations such as schools, colleges, work places and sports clubs are being encouraged to hold events where everyone can take time out to discuss mental health, share their experiences and tackle the stigma surrounding this issue. You can find out more at headstogether and time-to-change.

One in four of us will experience mental health problems in our lives, whether it’s anxiety, depression, low self-esteem or PTSD. The stresses of work, traumatic events, relationship breakdowns, money problems or bereavement can all lead to feelings of despair, to self-harm and even suicide. When someone has a physical illness, we are generally sympathetic; sadly, those suffering from mental ill health are often made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless. We really need to put a stop to this unfair discrimination.

In Britain, we’ve had a reputation for keeping a “stiff upper lip” and particularly in the case of men, talking about your feelings has been discouraged. Thankfully, this is now changing and it is being recognised that we are all vulnerable human beings, bottling up our emotions only makes things worse, and that it’s helpful to talk and to seek professional help, if needed.

It’s well recognised that exercise is very good for our mental health, releasing "happy hormones" that give us a sense of wellbeing and calm, and that it is as effective as antidepressants in many cases. Someone who exemplifies the beneficial effect of regular exercise on mental health is our Member of the Year 2019, Kris Clarke, who attends Fitness4Less Watford. Having endured a horrific attempt on his life, Kris went into a downward spiral of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, body dysmorphia and panic attacks.

Three years down the line, joining the gym and focusing on his physical fitness have enabled Kris to come off medication and to feel that he has been given a second chance in life. His career as a barber gives him the opportunity to chat to his clients and to help other men open up about their problems, as well as promoting exercise as a potent aid to mental and physical wellbeing. He hopes to be “a beacon of hope to others suffering with mental illnesses” and “to help raise awareness of the Campaign Against Living Miserably, a charity devoted to trying to prevent male suicide.

So if someone you know is feeling low, take time out to chat to them, maybe encourage them to join you at the gym, go for a run or bike ride together and see their GP if necessary, and make Time To Talk Day a springboard for getting the conversation going about the importance of mental, as well as physical, good health.

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