Time to Change, with support from Portsmouth and Southampton City Councils and Solent Mind, took over mobile food vans and cafes in both cities on Time to Talk Day (Thursday 6 February) to encourage men to open up about their mental health.
Time to Change Champions, who have lived experience of mental illness, were on hand to chat to customers as they enjoyed their free breakfast. Alan Knight and Duke Harrison-Hunter from Portsmouth Football Club joined one of the vans in Portsmouth to talk about their struggles with mental health and show men that it's good to talk.
Across the two cities over 65 meaningful conversations were had.
This activity was part of the Southampton and Portsmouth Time to Change Hub, which is one of eight areas awarded funding to tackle mental health stigma. The Hub has grants for Time to Change Champions with lived mental health experience, to run stigma-busting events and activities within their area.
Research conducted by Time to Change for Time to Talk Day found that 31% of adults in the South East would put off speaking to a friend who is struggling with their mental health to avoid an awkward conversation. In addition, half of those surveyed said they would prefer not to tell anyone if they were struggling with their mental health – even if it would help to talk. And over a third (34%) said keeping a stiff upper lip – not talking about mental health or emotions – is still important.
Angela Etherington, Community Equalities Coordinator, South East Time to Change, said; "The day was a great success. We had men talking to us about all sorts of things that were affecting their mental wellbeing including relationship breakdowns and missing their kids, the pressures of their jobs and money worries.
"They were pleased that work is being done to encourage people to talk as whilst some said that things are improving, many still wouldn't open up to a mate or know how to have a conversation if they thought a friend was struggling. We're looking forward to many more opportunities to connect with those in our communities this year."
Cllr Matthew Winnington, Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care at Portsmouth City Council, said; "We know that many people find it hard to talk about their mental health, particularly men. I think this activity was a great way to get people chatting and continue to break down the stigma around mental illness."
Cllr David Shields, Cabinet Member for Healthier and Safer City at Southampton City Council, said: "Taking care of our mental health should be everyone's concern. Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity for friends, colleagues and family to sit down with a cuppa and have a chat, ask someone how they're doing and listen.
"Our Time to Change Hub is working to change attitudes and perceptions of mental health in Southampton and Portsmouth and add to the national conversation we're having about stigma. I'd like to encourage people with lived experience dealing with mental health issues to become a Time to Change Champion by contacting the Hub."
This sits alongside other activity in both cities to support mental wellbeing:
In Portsmouth, other projects include PositiveMinds - a free face-to-face mental wellbeing support service in partnership between the NHS, Solent Mind, Portsmouth City Council and voluntary organisations, a mental health crisis card, and Portsmouth Interaction run by BH Live to provide sports and leisure activities to those experiencing mental illness.
In Southampton, other projects include supporting Southern Health's #gotaminute campaign, a social media campaign that aims to encourage people to check in with their colleagues, friends and family and ask how they are feeling.
For more information visit https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/hub/time-to-change-southampton-portsmouth