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Councillors share mental health experiences

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Councillors across Dudley borough have come together in a national first to share powerful messages on how they manage their own mental health, ahead of this year’s time to talk day.

Time to talk, is a national campaign organised by Time to Change and this year falls on Thursday February 4.

It aims to encourage people to talk about their own mental health experiences and to understand that even the smallest conversations, whether with a friend, loved one or a professional, can make a big difference in how they are feeling.

To support the campaign, in what is believed to be a national first, four community leaders have come together to create a cross-party video where they talk about their own mental health experiences and give tips on what has helped them.

It is hoped the video will encourage others to start a conversation about their own mental health and realise there is no shame in talking about how they feel.

The video features Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care, Councillor Laura Taylor, cabinet member for housing and community services, Councillor Hilary Bills, Deputy Mayor of Dudley and Councillor Cathy Bayton, shadow cabinet member for health. It can be viewed at Dudley’s public health website www.lets-get.com/time-to-talk-day/
Research in recent months has painted a picture of more prolonged damage to public mental health. One study in the UK compared rates of mental distress in the general population between the spring of 2018 and spring 2020, which increased from 18.8% to 27.3%. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/the-silent-pandemic-covid-19-and-mental-health

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and social care, said:

The last 12 months of living through a world-wide pandemic and sustained periods of lockdown have had a profound effect on people’s mental health and this has been well documented nationally in recent months.
We know that when coronavirus is no longer with us, its aftermath and the impact on our mental health could be with us for a long time.
This is why now is the time to talk and I hope by opening up about my own experiences along with my fellow councillors, it will encourage others to do the same and realise there are only benefits to gain from talking about how we are feeling. It really can help break down feelings of isolation and worthlessness.
I would like to thank my fellow councillors for being part of this campaign and would urge people to reach-out for support if they need it. Please also remember to check in on family, friends and colleagues, it could make all the difference.

Jo Loughran, director of Time to Change, said: 

Mental health problems are common and can affect any one of us, yet too often people are afraid to talk openly about mental health for fear of being judged. A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference. The more we talk about it, the better life is for all of us and Time to Talk Day is a chance for everyone to open up – to talk, to listen, to change lives.

For emergency mental health assistance, contact:
Black Country Healthcare 24/7 mental health helpline – 0345 646 0827
Alternatively, you can text SHOUT to 85258 or call the Samaritans on 116123.

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