It's good to talk

YOGADOO Founder and Teacher, Lucy Aston, hopes how we talk about mental health is changing.

Just a few weeks ago I was at a party and got talking to a lovely lady who, when she found out about YOGADOO started to tell me  about her own mental health challenges which she had faced at different points in her life. In turn I talked about suffering from anxiety and panic attacks a decade or so ago. We stood there, at a bar, two mums, two women in our thirties, talking about mental health, over a glass of Prosecco.

After our conversation, I wondered. Would our mums – thirty years ago -have had that same conversation? At a party? In a public place? I concluded that the answer was probably no.

Now I work in a health-focussed environment, teaching yoga and mindfulness to children as young as four, I am comforted that mental health is increasingly talked about in an open forum.

I was listening to an interview this morning with musician Professor Green, who has talked so candidly and honestly about his own mental health struggles and he said: “The trouble is, boys don’t want to appear vulnerable. They are told they need to be big and strong, but also have emotion and talk about their feelings too. No wonder they are confused about their role in today’s society.” It hit home for me, as a mum of an eight year old.

New research from Heads Together - the mental health campaign spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry - found that nearly half of us (46%) have had a conversation about mental health over the past three months.

Heads Together has launched a series of videos where people share their most memorable experience of talking about mental health. The films feature people from all walks of life - including famous faces Professor Green, Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff, Ruby Wax, Mark Austin and Alastair Campbell - as they discuss topics ranging from anxiety, alcoholism and depression through to loneliness, trauma and bereavement.

The research uncovered that men are still less likely to talk about mental health than women, with 54% of women having had a conversation about it recently compared to 37% of men.

In a joint statement, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry said: “When you realise that mental health problems affect your friends, neighbours, children and spouses, the walls of judgement and prejudice around these issues begin to fall. And we all know that you cannot resolve a mental health issue by staying silent.

You can view the entire collection of Heads Together films on YouTube or the charity’s website now.  

Children and young people face more distractions and challenges than we ever did during our own childhood; gadgets, instant messenger, 'instant' entertainment, pressures to perform at school, the vast choice of extra-cirricular activities, online gaming and the list goes on. But maybe in this multi-channel, instant-access world if we can teach them the importance of mindfulness and relaxation - this can help them to process and deal with modern life. Similarly, if they do feel like they are struggling with a mental health issue of some kind, if we have open and honest conversations about how they are feeling, they will feel comfortable and confident enough to talk back. Not bury their worries away.

I think we are some way off mental health issues being talked about in the same breath as a cough or cold, but the more we talk, the more ‘normal’ it becomes and in turn the more people will talk and seek help.

It’s good to talk.

Useful websites and helplines:

·         Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393

·         Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123(UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)

·         Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk