Mental Health: Time to TalkPosted on 6th February 2014 by Seb Feast
Today, February 6th, is the first ever Time to Talk day.
At Impetus we know that mental health problems can show themselves in lots of different ways and we see this every day in our work – our Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS) links older people and those with physical disabilities with volunteers to build personal connections, allowing them to combat isolation and depression with somebody by their side.
Last year, 2012-13, mental health services were the source of most referrals (15%) to the NCS, after self-referrals – in fact, 21% of the 1931 scheme members on our database said they had mental health problems at initial assessment.
NCS volunteers provide scheme members with support in a variety of ways, including tasks which they might find difficult in their day-to-day lives, but most importantly each volunteer strives to be a friend their scheme member can turn to.
Over the last six years, on average 43% of NCS scheme members have reported feeling less depressed as a result of support from volunteers. Here’s what one woman said of her volunteer, who visits while her husband does errands:
“She has given me lots of encouragement when I was feeling very low. I feel much better because of her.”
Alongside this, it’s no secret that volunteering has proven to have a positive impact on the mental health of volunteers themselves. Again, over the last six years, one in three NCS volunteers has reported feeling greater self-esteem. A volunteer in their early thirties said, “I feel less worried about my own problems. It puts things in perspective,” while one in their late sixties said that volunteering “made me feel useful and happy.”
A wonderful example of the NCS’ work that you can read here on our website is Eve and Daniela’s Story, which shows just how important this kind of relationship can be to both scheme members and volunteers alike.
Time to Talk’s core message is that by talking about our experiences with mental health and listening to others’ experiences, we can help to erode the stigma and discrimination that is built up around the subject. The conversation across Twitter so far has been great – if you want to share how you’ve taken part today, or every day, please do get involved with @TimetoChange using the #TimetoTalk hashtag. You can also keep up to date with their live blog.