It’s time to talk

By Monika Metodieva

I thought I was going insane. My mind was occupied to overthink pretty much everything. It was constantly bombarded with these thoughts that I didn’t want to be thinking. Unintentionally imagining my worst fears about fifty times a day. I felt like I was losing control of my own sanity. And then I stumbled on a video that introduced me to my probably lifelong partner in life –anxiety.

This happened in 2010 – no one talked about mental health. It wasn’t all over social media, my favourite celebs were not open about it, no one in school mentioned it. I remember reading on Wikipedia that one in every four adults had mental health problems but I didn’t  know anyone who had dealt with it. So I turned to the internet, I did plenty of research, read statistics, watched videos of people who are dealing with different mental health issues but I still felt trapped in my own mind.

I decided to share this huge secret with my friends, or at least that’s what I was thinking when I was 14, life is just so dramatic at this age. I distinctly remember I was walking to school with my best friends and started explaining what anxiety was – as I was talking, they kept saying “Oh I do this too and I have never told anyone”. This was the exact moment I felt like I was somewhat normal.

This is why it’s so important to talk about it. We are lucky enough that nowadays there is awareness about mental health issues. Today – the 4th of February – is Time to Talk Day. Time to Talk Day is a chance for all of us to be more open about mental health. Let’s take a look at history – when did it all start?

According to research references to mental health can be traced back well before the 20th century in English literature however mental health as a field was not found until 1946 when the World Health Organization (WHO) was established and a Mental Health Association was founded in London.

It all started as a mental hygiene movement when in 1908 Clifford Beers published a book in the US based on his personal experience of admissions to three mental hospitals. The same year a Mental Hygiene Society was established in Connecticut.

In 2001, WHO dedicated its annual report to mental health. The theme of the World Health Day in 2001 was Stop Exclusion – Dare to Care.  Fast forward to 2014 the social movement Time to Change created the Time to Talk day, a chance for initiating a conversation around mental health.

“Time to Talk day started in England, as a campaign run by Time to Change, the English programme to end mental health stigma. The aim was to get everyone talking about mental health on one day, with the aim that it would help people to start to have conversations, that would carry on throughout the year”, says Nick Jedrzejewski, a representative of See Me Scotland.

In Scotland the campaign has been run by See Me since 2018, with this year marking the 4th Time to Talk day. “The aim is to encourage everyone to have a conversation about mental health, to break down barriers and help end stigma and discrimination”, says Jedrzejewski.

“A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference and it’s something we can all do. So this year, our theme is The Power Of Small. The more we talk about it, the better life is for all of us”, he continues.

Anxiety can feel like a trap, an invisible one. Only you can see it. People ask what’s going on but how can you even put it into words. The thing is you don’t have to let it define you. I am a happy person. Anxiety can’t change that.