This week is a big week for mental health awareness combining both Children’s Mental Health Week (set up by the charity Place 2 Be to shine a light on the importance of children’s mental health – this year’s theme is “Find Your Brave”) and Time to Talk Day. Led by Time to Change, a social movement working to end mental health discrimination, Time to Talk day aims to enable everyone to have a conversation about mental health, whether that’s at work, talking to a friend or colleague, or texting a family member.
As has been explored in a previous Khulisa blog, taking time to talk needs to be more than the standard “Oh hi, how are you?” – “Yeah, fine thanks, you?” exchange that we might hear and say hundreds of times a day but which reveals precisely nothing about how we are feeling!
Instead, we would like to take a leaf out of another brilliant campaign from Time to Change called “Ask Twice” where we are encouraged to check in with each other again. So the conversation might go like this:
“How are you?”
“Yeah, fine, you?”
“Are you really fine?”
This is the key to authentic connection, a willingness and capability to actually want to know how the other person is. Because we’re humans, and humans usually don’t like feeling vulnerable, or even having too much attention on us, when we are first asked how we are, an ingrained response is to brush it off and bat it back – “Yeah, fine, you?” But approximately 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem this year. With numbers this large, it really is time to change our patterns, and to offer genuine support and connection to each other.
At Khulisa, we hold the space for our young people to begin to be authentic – to start learning how they are actually feeling. We slow down, and honour each other’s process, and take the time to create a space and an opportunity for them to share with us how they are at that moment. Giving this space to talk is key to helping young people build positive relationships – the most common factor found in highly resilient children. It is also a key component of being brave, as best said by the organisers of this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week:
“Bravery can be about sharing worries and asking for help, trying something new or pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. can build your confidence, self-esteem and make you feel good about yourself.”