Survey: so few of us are open about our feelings

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A survey by Time to Change – the anti-stigma programme run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, has revealed that only 13 per cent of people in the South East are always truthful about how they’re feeling - proving the stiff upper lip still exists and we often keep our emotions firmly buttoned up.

According to the research, nearly half of respondents in this area of England confess the reason they’re not always honest is because they don’t want to depress other people (43 per cent) or don’t like talking about how they’re feeling (38 per cent).

While 42 per cent choose not to answer honestly because they feel people only ask out of politeness and don’t really want to know how they’re really feeling.

Despite mental health problems affecting one in four people, 81per cent of people in the South East still admitted feeling more comfortable opening up about physical health compared to mental health, showing there is still a big disparity in the way we’re able to talk about mental and physical illnesses.

To encourage the nation to open up and ‘get talking’ about how they’re feeling, Time to Change has launched its latest campaign to end stigma and discrimination around mental health – It’s time to talk. It’s time to change.

From this week, advertising will appear nationally across TV, radio, in press and online. People across England will be able to make their very own pledge to end discrimination through talking and being open about mental health.

It’s time to talk. It’s time to change aims to tackle the taboo around mental health problems by removing the fear and awkwardness associated with talking about them.

Time to Change Director Sue Baker said: “It’s so important for people across the nation to open up about how they’re feeling and talk to family, friends or their GP if they need to.

“Nearly nine out of ten people experiencing a mental health problem still say they experience stigma and sadly 27 per cent of those have said it has made them want to give up on life.

“As we see more and more people speaking out in the public eye, and within communities, it becomes less of a taboo subject. However, there’s still much more to be done.

“While keeping a stiff upper lip might be something ingrained in our culture, we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about something that affects one in four people.”

Time to Change supporter Ruby Wax said: “A mental health problem can affect just about anyone and that’s including me. It’s so common, yet we still find it so hard to talk about.

“The only way we can end the stigma, is by getting this thing out in the open. We can all play a part and pledging to talk will help us end this silence.”

In 2011, Time to Change received new funding from Department of Health and Comic Relief to continue its groundbreaking work to end the stigma surrounding mental health. The next stage of the programme will focus on tackling stigma amongst children and young people and targeted work with black and minority communities.

Don’t be afraid to talk about mental health. To find out how, go to time-to-change.org.uk or join our online community at facebook.com/timetochange.