Muslim Doctors Association (MDA)

Time to Talk, Time to Change

One in four people will experience a mental health problem in any year. One in four people will also experience a stroke in their lifetime, yet the awareness and advocacy for strokes far exceeds that of mental health. Attitudes towards mental health and the motivation or momentum to change is still lacking in our communities. The “Time to Talk” campaign aims to bring mental health to the forefront of our conversations, which could lead to a lifetime of change.

Time to Talk promotes engaging with our friends, colleagues and neighbours to start conversations about problems we are facing in our lives. Time to Talk promotes opening up a conversation and listening, to ask twice if someone is truly feeling fine, and to be in someone’s corner for when they really need help. It is naturally difficult to hold conversations about sensitive topics but they have bright, eye-catching campaign posters, promotional materials and entertaining methods for starting conversations. These can take the pressure off starting such conversations which can help break down barriers and give people the confidence to discuss their feelings safely.

Examples include:

  • Would you rather be stuck in a spider’s web? Or talk to a friend who is trapped in their feelings?
  • Would you rather sort through a mountain of emails? Or talk to a colleague about mental health?
  • Is there a mate missing around this table? Reach out to them.
  • Would you rather have the neck of an ostrich? Or talk to a friend who is burying their feelings?

The power of the Time to Talk campaign lies in the simplicity of the message and turns what could be meaningless small talk into a significant and life-changing conversation. The “ask twice” method, which has already seen success and been adopted by bodies such as National Rail, can be of vital importance. A small conversation can go a long way not only in making a difference to somebody’s day, but also to their mental, physical and social health for a lifetime.

Aadam Anwar is a Surgical Directorate Pharmacist at Luton and Dunstable Hospital, with a keen interest in mental health. He is an advocate for raising awareness and promoting the treatment of mental health in the Muslim community.