It’s #TimetoTalk

Thursday 5 February is #TimetoTalk day. Here at the CIPD, we’ll be encouraging people to take five minutes to have a conversation about mental health, in particular the myths and facts around it. We want to help break the silence as we know that having a mental health problem is hard enough, without feeling you can’t speak up when things are difficult. Just a short conversation can make a big difference to someone and lets them know they’re not on their own.

Right now, one in six workers is dealing with a mental health problem. And in our latest CIPD Absence Management survey, two out of five employers said they’d seen an increase in reported mental health problems in the past year. How comfortable do you and your colleagues or friends feel about speaking up when you’re struggling? Let’s keep working to break down the stigma around it, and talk about mental health as readily as we would about a broken arm.

A Department for Health report published in 2011 said there’s no health without mental health. It’s so true that we talk about physical health much more readily than we do mental health. There are some simple ways we can support mental health and wellbeing at work:

Are you being your own best friend? Think about how you support your own mental health and well-being. We often get caught up in supporting other people or ‘life just takes over’ and we can forget to look after ourselves. Perhaps we could encourage people to leave their desks at lunchtime and take proper breaks. Or a gentle reminder to take annual leave entitlement. 

How comfortable do you feel talking to your friends or colleagues about mental health? Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. The #TimetoTalk advert explains how asking someone how they are is all it takes to make a difference to how they're feeling.

Do you know what support your organisation offers? Often employers invest in employee assistance programmes and counseling services for their staff, but sometimes staff don’t know how to access them. Ask your HR department to do a desk drop, put up posters and put the contact numbers for these services on the intranet.

Where can people go for help if they need it? Although the aim of Time to Talk Day is to get people talking about mental health in general (e.g. myths and facts) rather than about an individual’s own mental health, conversations may become distressing for people. The organisation Time to Change has developed a list of mental health help and support services: take a look here.

Get involved in #TimetoTalk day: Take five minutes on 5 February to have a conversation about mental health. Talk at work over a cup of tea, online, or with your friends and family. Find out more here.

*updated Sept 2015

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  • There's a one word reason why it's harder for most people to talk about mental rather than physical health.  The word is fear. And fear is natural because most people don't understand their own mental health, let alone others. I used to be in that position. Fortunately for me I came across Dr George Pransky and others who approach the subject from a different perspective which, for me, suddenly made sense of everything. With this simple understanding I often talk to people about mental health, and many have told me that they have been helped by this.


  • Being overweight or obese can sometimes be a symptom of mental health issues rather than the cause.

    I help people to understand why they turn to food rather deal with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, low self esteem etc.  I provide my clients with the tools, via counselling/coaching/mentoring models to become more mentally robust and to deal with life and its issues in a more self nurturing manor – without the crutch of emotional eating.  This results in self awareness, self determination and long term weight loss.


  • I have been involved with the Mindful Employer initiative since 2007, which may be of interest to employers seeking to support employees suffering from mental health issues:

    www.mindfulemployer.net

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I have suffered from clinical depression for many years and at one point was hospitalized for 3 weeks with a total of 7 weeks off work.  My employer at the time was one of the main reasons I got better.  Bupa cover provided by the company gave me access to treatment quickly and provided the hospital care I needed.  I wasn't a danger to myself or others so I would not have received that care any other way.  I was paid as normal for the full 7 weeks and when I came back to work our HR person worked directly with the hospital to balance outpatient  treatment with a phased return to work.  TANDBERG has since been brought out by Cisco and I've been much better for the past 4 years so haven't tested Cisco as yet but Bupa is still in place and my immediate management have continued to be supportive.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I have suffered from clinical depression for many years and at one point was hospitalized for 3 weeks with a total of 7 weeks off work.  My employer at the time was one of the main reasons I got better.  Bupa cover provided by the company gave me access to treatment quickly and provided the hospital care I needed.  I wasn't a danger to myself or others so I would not have received that care any other way.  I was paid as normal for the full 7 weeks and when I came back to work our HR person worked directly with the hospital to balance outpatient  treatment with a phased return to work.  TANDBERG has since been brought out by Cisco and I've been much better for the past 4 years so haven't tested Cisco as yet but Bupa is still in place and my immediate management have continued to be supportive.


  • Many senior HR people who have now where to turn in relation to their own problems suffer from mental health issues.  We also absorb a lot of others problems and its important the CIPD as our professional body put something in place to help HR professionals.  I had a full mental breakdown due to bullying in the workplace by a very senior director and I literally had no where to go, I couldn't talk to anyone, no advice was given, I wasn't protected at all.  What is in place for HR professionals when the chips are down....absolutely nothing.  The amount of money the CIPD takes every year should provide support and legal advice in the same way that trade unions provide support to their members.  This needs to change.  Kind regards

    Z

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Mental health conditions won't change until the provision of services changes and it is regarded as the relative 'norm' for people to talk to their GP about their mental health as they would their physical, and to find that there is easy access to appropriate counselling or other kinds of support.  At present, (and for many years), mental health has been/is poorly understood, resourced or treated, and many people can go for years without being able to access help. The truth is that a number of mental health conditions are caused by medical (and vice versa), and the links between the two are so inextricably linked, that to ignore a whole part of the human condition causes most of the problems face by individuals, employers and government. The idea of being sectioned remains a horror (and still has huge stigma attached), and yet few would raise an eyebrow if someone was in hospital for a medical condition for a period of time.  Mental health wards are largely primitive and barren places. We are all capable of breaking down given enough stress and there is far too much reliance on pharmaceutical solutions.  Employers can help by being 'disability aware' and giving preference for interview to those candidates with declared mental health disabilities, or previous mental health problems.  Schools can talk openly about mental health and provide greater access to counsellors.  Stress in the workplace is made much of but few employers really engage with the impact.Leaders should be trained to recognise the symptoms and have strategies to support employees.  There is a huge amount to be done and we are still in the dark ages.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Mental health conditions won't change until the provision of services changes and it is regarded as the relative 'norm' for people to talk to their GP about their mental health as they would their physical, and to find that there is easy access to appropriate counselling or other kinds of support.  At present, (and for many years), mental health has been/is poorly understood, resourced or treated, and many people can go for years without being able to access help. The truth is that a number of mental health conditions are caused by medical (and vice versa), and the links between the two are so inextricably linked, that to ignore a whole part of the human condition causes most of the problems face by individuals, employers and government. The idea of being sectioned remains a horror (and still has huge stigma attached), and yet few would raise an eyebrow if someone was in hospital for a medical condition for a period of time.  Mental health wards are largely primitive and barren places. We are all capable of breaking down given enough stress and there is far too much reliance on pharmaceutical solutions.  Employers can help by being 'disability aware' and giving preference for interview to those candidates with declared mental health disabilities, or previous mental health problems.  Schools can talk openly about mental health and provide greater access to counsellors.  Stress in the workplace is made much of but few employers really engage with the impact.Leaders should be trained to recognise the symptoms and have strategies to support employees.  There is a huge amount to be done and we are still in the dark ages.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I am glad that mental health is finally being acknowledged as a problem that could have a huge impact on the workplace. I previously worked for Time to Talk as a practitioner and currently work in HR, so I can now see things from the employee perspective as well as the employer's. As an employee, I think it is important to become more aware of the support services available within or outside the workplace. As an employer, it is important to provide some simple psychoeducational workshops in the workplace to raise awareness of mental health, and also to identify the early warning signs of stress, depression and anxiety and to take action/offer support early on.  


  • The  more we share our experiences then the easier and safer it will become to be open about mental health  issues and challenge the stigma surrounding it. I'm supporting the Time To Talk.  

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Please feel free to ring Samaritans on 08457909090 - we are there to help individuals with any stress that they maybe experiencing...we are a neutral ear and our service is totally confidential


  • In my organisation we provide mental health awareness training to leaders and managers to help them identify with and spot the signs of mental illness early on; and manage better any employees' work-related stress. This training has a double advantage in the sense that, on the one hand it's hugely beneficial for them personally to seek help if they could identify with any of the signs, and on the other hand allow referring staff for treatment much sooner. We help raise our staff awareness by running regular promotional campaigns via our intranet, posters and newsletters. We deliver training on resilience and other coping mechanisms as further support to staff; as well as in-house counseling, free exercise onsite classes and fastrack physio.

    I personally feel that we offer an acceptable level of awareness and support; however we still witness an increase in reported mental health cases so is there much else one can really do  especially if the triggers reside outside the working environment?


  • I agree with a lot that has been posted, however, the observations that Zoe makes regarding the support HR professionals can access (or rather can't in many cases) when they are feeling pressure in the workplace need to be acknowledged. HR practitioners are not immune from bullying and, additionally, as a large proportion of their time can be spent listening and trying to resolve other people’s issues then inevitably, in some cases; this will result in potential mental health problems. Some professions such as those within Healthcare have time set aside for "Clinical Supervision” on a regular and planned basis where individuals can talk through traumatic incidents in a counselling type environment to reduce the impact on them. As HR doesn’t tend to do this and essentially can’t turn to HR in many cases if they are in need of support, it is worth developing a supportive confidential network to look after each other in the absence of anything else.

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I was made mentally ill by a Mental Health Trust and I hope some of its HR people read this as they are just as culpable as the managers who did nothing to stop the bullying I was exposed to. Even the whistleblower that exposed what was going on behind the scenes and then blatantly, became another target for the bullies and was also made ill as a result. After a period of sick leave for stress, anxiety and depression, we never returned to work and I personally haven't been able to work since. Unison was useless and just the cost of lodging and booking an ET claim is prohibitive. The joke is that having peaked in my HR career some years earlier, I was working in the department that processed the Section paperwork under the Mental Health Act! So far as I am aware, the bullies still reign and two hard working and professional staff lost their jobs albeit by resignation. Even the Chief Executive did nothing when we bought our case to her attention following her public apology to the staff for the culture of fear, blame and bullying in the Trust. It failed dismally in its duty of care to us. So, after 41 years of employment, mostly spent in HR and at senior level, I was too ill to engage in the ESA process, so stopped my payments and haven’t had it in me to sign on. These situations will not stop until the HR function is empowered to insist on good management practice in the application of HR policy, instead of having to tow the management line for which they have become puppets. I also agree with the comment that the CIPD could do more to support its members when there are grounds for legal representation. The CIPD would also do well to plan for bullying to be the norm in the workplace, as the working population of the future will be comprised of those who have got away with anti-social behaviour in their primary school, secondary school and university or college. We can’t expect them to suddenly demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills and to treat people with dignity and respect. The HR function can have the best HR policies ever written but until it is allowed to stand up for righteousness, irrespective of what management says and without fear of being sidelined and undermined, frankly it will become a cost to employers that can’t be justified legally or morally. I agree that it is ‘time to talk’, but equally I am not convinced that the workplace is a good place to start. I won’t go in to the detail of my experience but suffice it to say that the workplace has become an environment where it is not safe to express a view on anything beyond saying a ‘hi’ and ‘bye’. They have become hostile environments where everyone would be well advised to keep their counsel. There is enough case law to support this and turning a blind eye does not mean it is not happening. I will endeavour to talk to someone tomorrow but for obvious reasons, it won’t be in the workplace!

    A final thought – would the CIPD give consideration to having a reduced rate for membership for the over 60’s even though we can’t draw our pensions yet but daren’t cancel, just in case…….

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    I was made mentally ill by a Mental Health Trust and I hope some of its HR people read this as they are just as culpable as the managers who did nothing to stop the bullying I was exposed to. Even the whistleblower that exposed what was going on behind the scenes and then blatantly, became another target for the bullies and was also made ill as a result. After a period of sick leave for stress, anxiety and depression, we never returned to work and I personally haven't been able to work since. Unison was useless and just the cost of lodging and booking an ET claim is prohibitive. The joke is that having peaked in my HR career some years earlier, I was working in the department that processed the Section paperwork under the Mental Health Act! So far as I am aware, the bullies still reign and two hard working and professional staff lost their jobs albeit by resignation. Even the Chief Executive did nothing when we bought our case to her attention following her public apology to the staff for the culture of fear, blame and bullying in the Trust. It failed dismally in its duty of care to us. So, after 41 years of employment, mostly spent in HR and at senior level, I was too ill to engage in the ESA process, so stopped my payments and haven’t had it in me to sign on. These situations will not stop until the HR function is empowered to insist on good management practice in the application of HR policy, instead of having to tow the management line for which they have become puppets. I also agree with the comment that the CIPD could do more to support its members when there are grounds for legal representation. The CIPD would also do well to plan for bullying to be the norm in the workplace, as the working population of the future will be comprised of those who have got away with anti-social behaviour in their primary school, secondary school and university or college. We can’t expect them to suddenly demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills and to treat people with dignity and respect. The HR function can have the best HR policies ever written but until it is allowed to stand up for righteousness, irrespective of what management says and without fear of being sidelined and undermined, frankly it will become a cost to employers that can’t be justified legally or morally. I agree that it is ‘time to talk’, but equally I am not convinced that the workplace is a good place to start. I won’t go in to the detail of my experience but suffice it to say that the workplace has become an environment where it is not safe to express a view on anything beyond saying a ‘hi’ and ‘bye’. They have become hostile environments where everyone would be well advised to keep their counsel. There is enough case law to support this and turning a blind eye does not mean it is not happening. A final thought – would the CIPD give consideration to having a reduced rate for membership for the over 60’s even though we can’t draw our pensions yet but daren’t cancel our membership, just in case…….