Take breather on a sofa – and talk about mental health

Sofa is talking point in busy market place

May 3, 2011

PEOPLE browsing the market in Barnard Castle last week had the chance to take breather on a sofa  – and talk about mental health. 
The bright red sofa was set out in the busy street by England’s leading mental health anti-discrimination programme, Time to Change, to help end the silence around mental health problems.

Mental health advisers and people who have experienced discrimination encouraged shoppers to sit on the sofa to start a conversation, open up issues on mental health and break down stigma about mental health.
It was part of the organisation’s new campaign drive “It’s time to talk, it’s time to change” aimed at taking the taboo out of something which affects one in four people. 
People were asked to complete a “myth and fact” quiz on mental health and sign their own pledge card to help end discrimination. 
The travelling sofa is the latest in a series of awareness drives across the region by the Time to Change campaign, this time taking time to talk across rural towns and villages. 
Deputy town mayor of Barnard Castle, Cllr Frank Harrison, said: “I am really happy to see the Time to change sofa in Barnard Castle town centre. 
“The campaign will show people that it is a positive step towards ending mental health discrimination by encouraging them to talk more openly about mental health problems.”
Neil Johnson, public mental health lead for the North East Mental Health Development Unit, said: “Having a sofa in the middle of a busy marketplace certainly raised eyebrows and captured people’s attention. 
“The Time to Talk sofa encouraged members of the public, who may or may not have a mental health problem, to be unafraid when talking about mental health issues. The conversation may start with something as simple as ‘How are you feeling?’ 
“This campaign addresses the reluctance that many of us feel when talking about mental health issues and encourages conversations about mental health.”
The Time to Change sofa will pop up in Crook, Alnwick and Guisborough this week to keep the conversation going.
One in four people in England is likely to experience a mental illness in their lives and Time to Change aims to break down stigma by getting people talking about mental health – whether it is their own experiences or those of family, friends or colleagues.
A recent online survey conducted by Time to Change highlighted the hesitation people with mental health problems feel in opening up to those around them, especially when compared to talking about physical health problems.
In the survey, only one in three respondents, 29.7 per cent, said they would feel comfortable telling a work colleague they had been off work as a result of their mental illness, while nine out of ten, 88 per cent, said they would feel comfortable saying they had been away from work for a physical health problem. 


One Response to Take breather on a sofa – and talk about mental health

  1. Myrna says:

    Wouldn’t it be good if the travelling sofa could visit more towns and market places?
    these sort of ideas are the way forward in removing the stigma that surrounds mental
    health and to get people talking about the problems and issues that anyone of us could

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