February 6th is Time to Talk Day. Now in its 7th year Time to Talk day aims to get people talking about their mental health and tackle the stigma associated with mental illness.

Too often when we think of mental health, we think about mental illness.

1 in 4 of us will experience mental illness but 4 in 4 of us have mental health. We will all experience difficult times that can impact our mental wellbeing – whether that be divorce and separation, bereavement, serious illness, children leaving home, financial challenges.

We spend on average a third of our adult lives at work. The cost of poor mental health to business of is estimated to be £43 billion per annum. The human cost is, of course, immeasurable.

All the evidence shows people are far more comfortable talking about our physical health than our mental health. Like most people I find talking about my physical health at work easy: I happily rocked up to work a few months ago talking about how I had hurt my shoulder in sport. But when it comes to our mental health, fear and stigma still prevents people from talking. When my brother died in 2015 I didn’t feel able to talk to anybody about it, even when I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other and couldn’t work properly.

That is why we at Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England are so clear that, as workplaces across the private, public, voluntary and social enterprise sectors, we all need to transform the way we think about the mental health and wellbeing of our people.   

As businesses with social purpose our sector is pioneering new approaches on different issues. We have equity, fairness and ethics at the heart of everything we do. Our businesses are powered by passionate, committed people who care.

And so too must we care about their mental health; doing all we can to promote wellbeing through meaningful work and healthy working relationships, tackling stigma and raising awareness about mental health through training and bringing initiatives like Time to Talk Day into our businesses.

As a social enterprise MHFA England’s purpose is to improve the mental health of the nation. Our mission is to train one in ten of the adult population in mental health awareness and skills. We want to create a cultural tipping point, and an unshakable belief, that we can all talk freely about mental health and seek support when we need it. 

We provide Mental Health First Aid England training (which does exactly what it says on the tin), mental health awareness training and free online resources on aspects of mental health wellbeing and self-care. We also campaign for culture change through initiatives including Address Your Stress, Empower Half Hour, Where’s Your Head At? and, most recently, My Whole Self. You can find out more about all of our work at mhfaengland.org or by following @MHFAEngland.

If you would like to talk about how to get started, what else you can do, or how you can find out more about our work and our campaigns I would love to hear from you so please do email me on simon.blake@mhfaengland.org.