Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to talk about mental health & is dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental health.

This year, open conversations about mental health are more important than ever with the COVID-19 pandemic having impacted everyone’s lives so drastically. Before the pandemic, it was reported that one in four people were affected by mental health problems. With the need to provide increased levels of support in a range of areas including bereavement, depression and anxiety given the economic and social uncertainties caused by the pandemic, this figure may have increased.

Time to Talk Day presents a perfect opportunity for us to demonstrate commitment to changing the way people think and act about mental health and normalising conversations. By encouraging open conversations about mental health, we can help to break down stereotypes surrounding mental health, aid recovery and take the stigma out of something that affects so many of us.

The past year at the Bar has affected different practice areas and individuals differently, but stress and anxiety have reached most members. Mental health in the workplace is a big concern. The NHS report that one in six workers will experience depression, anxiety or problems relating to stress. Now more than ever employees are likely to be experiencing a range of different interconnected issues including extra caring responsibilities and financial worries as well as potential increased feelings of loneliness and isolation due to social distancing and working from home.

Back in 2018 when Chambers appointed Zoe Henry as our first dedicated Wellbeing Officer, we were keen to demonstrate a proactive and public approach to wellbeing. We wanted to make sure that every barrister and member of staff felt supported in times of need. We had no idea that two years later, 2020 would bring an incredibly challenging year where this approach to prioritise wellbeing would be so important.

Zoe created a plan for Chambers to start a conversation around wellbeing with the idea that it falls into our everyday working life, not something only if and when time and life allows. The same concept applies now, on Time to Talk Day. This year’s focus is on the power of small, because however you have a conversation about mental health – whether it’s a quick text to a friend, a virtual coffee morning with colleagues, or a socially distanced walk with someone – it has the power to make a big difference to someone’s day.  Make sure you take time for yourself too, prioritise your own health and wellbeing. And if you find yourself needing support, don’t hesitate to ask for it. There are plenty of organisations offering help and support.