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Posted on Feb 2 2023 by Fiona Bailey

Integrative Psychotherapist Liz Ritchie has drafted a column for the Chronicle and Echo to mark Time To Talk Day (February 2), to remind us all about the importance of checking in with each other.

"As a child I remember frequently being told off for chatting in class to my friends and being asked to sit with my finger on my lips. Now, as an adult I think back to those moments with much affection and humour as I now it’s my career to talk to people.

Of course, back then I had no idea how powerful having a conversation can be if held at the right time.

Now, with 35 years’ experience under my belt, I have seen first-hand how talking can turn someone’s life around.  

Whatever your term of endearment for talking, be it chin-wagging, chewing the fat or speaking ten to the dozen, most of us do it every day without even thinking about it. But, have you ever considered how difficult starting a conversation can be if someone is struggling with their mental health?

Today is Time To Talk Day, a name given to mark the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. The initiative was created by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness and as a mental health charity ourselves we fully support the whole idea.  

People who are experiencing racing thoughts, unexplained fear, disproportionate anger, panic at carrying out small daily tasks and lack of sleep may not be realising that what they are going through is anxiety or depression.

Jumbled thoughts and muddy minds can make it very difficult for them to form the right words to describe what they are going through, let alone ask for help.

That is why Time To Talk Day is such a great initiative because it’s forcing us all to take a breath, pause and look around us to see if there is someone out there who could do with a chat.

It could be as simple as a quick check in with a colleague, asking a friend if they are ok? or maybe a sit down conversation with a cuppa and a loved one is required. Whatever the approach, the main aim is to show that person that someone cares enough to talk to them when they need it most.

Of course, not everyone feels comfortable talking to friends, family or colleagues if they are feeling low. Many don’t want to burden those close to them with their problems, which is why we have doctors, therapists and services such as the Samaritans to help.

There is help out there, our role might be to give someone a voice for long enough to reach out and ask for it.

Today is all about shining the light on talking and how the right conversation can clear minds.

So, together let’s harness the power of talking and make space to chat this Time to Talk day.

For anyone who needs someone to talk to, you can contact the Samaritans on 116 123. They are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

To see the column in the paper, click here