People across West Lothian join UK-wide conversation on mental health for Time to Talk Day

Workplaces, schools and community groups across West Lothian joined the UK’s biggest conversation on mental health on Thursday, February 3 for Time to Talk Day.

Angela McCrimmon from West Lothian, who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Photo: Marc Turner/ See Me Scotland.
Angela McCrimmon from West Lothian, who has a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Photo: Marc Turner/ See Me Scotland.

Just over one in four (26 percent) Scots surveyed who have experienced a worsening of their mental health for the first time during the pandemic have yet to have a conversation about it, according to a new poll conducted as part of Time to Talk Day.

The survey of 1001 people across Scotland also revealed that nearly one in five people (19 percent) who were already struggling with a mental health problem when the pandemic hit said they haven’t spoken to anyone about their mental health since the pandemic started.

This year’s Time to Talk Day saw a range of events take place across West Lothian, with workplaces, schools, community groups, sports clubs, friends and family doing their bit to start the conversation on mental health, with a focus on not just talking, but listening too.

See Me volunteers across Scotland were also supporting Time to Talk Day. West Lothian’s Angela McCrimmon says that opening up about her mental health has had an important impact on her life.

She said: “A lot of my recovery and freedom came when I started to open up and be honest and realise that there is there is no shame in living with a mental illness. It's part of who I am.

"My advice, when it comes to talking about your mental health, is not to be afraid of being honest. We need to help remove shame and stigma, so tell your story without fear of what others may think.”

The Time to Talk Day poll also showed that 44 percent of people reported worsening mental health since the pandemic began in March 2020.

The campaign is run in Scotland by See Me, the national programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, in partnership with Co-op.

See Me director Wendy Halliday said: “We all have mental health, and any of us could go through a period where we struggle. The figures show that there is still real stigma attached to opening up about how you’re feeling, and we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about mental health in a way that suits them.”

She added: “I’m incredibly impressed by all the support we had for this year’s Time to Talk Day across West Lothian and I’m sure that the important conversations that took place will have a lasting impact.”

Encouragingly, of those who had spoken about their mental health, an overwhelming majority of 71 percent reported that this had been a positive experience – showing that there is real power in opening up – and 62 percent of respondents agreed that it is getting easier to talk about mental health.

Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value at the Co-op, said: “It’s never been a more important time for us to be able to talk about how we are feeling, however, it can still be hard to speak up about our mental wellbeing. Our research has shown the vital role played by our communities in kickstarting these conversations, giving us the chance to open up whilst we are out and about.”

Find out how you can continue to tackle mental health stigma beyond Time to Talk Day at www.seemescotland.org/SeeUs.