It’s good to talk about mental health

Bernicia employee Lucy Coughlan who has opened up about her battle with mental health issues supports Time to Talk national awareness day

Lucy Coughlan, Office Services Advisor at Bernicia, fully supports today’s national ‘Time to Talk’ campaign, encouraging everyone to take the time to speak about mental health.

She has managed mental health issues for years and bravely took the decision to tell colleagues at work about her struggles.

Lucy has accessed support from a team of mental health first aiders at Bernicia – staff trained to support colleagues – and sought help from a professional therapist who works with Bernicia when required.

“Mental health is a topic close to my heart,” said Lucy.

“I have battled with mental health issues for a very long time. I have always been very open about my mental health but it has taken me a while to open up.

“The more we talk about mental health issues the quicker we can eradicate the ‘stigma’.

“Don’t let your thoughts affect your daily life, let someone, anyone, know how you feel. You’d be surprised how much of a release you get by just getting your worries/anxieties out of your head.”

Lucy paid tribute to her manager Jackie Johnson and her work colleagues who have supported her during her toughest times.

“The support of my manager Jackie and my team has been invaluable when I’ve been in crisis,” said Lucy.

“I’ve also received support from HR and Jackie who helped me access Bernicia’s therapist Andrea who is fantastic.

“Please contact a mental health first aider if you find yourself to be in the same situation that I have been in on many occasions.

“Knowing someone is there to speak to or listen makes a huge difference – even if you don’t feel like talking.”

Jackie said: “Lucy has shown a huge amount of courage and we’ve both listened and learnt from each other over the years.

“Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of and neither is talking about it. People with mental health conditions deserve as much support and compassion as those with physical health conditions.”

However you do it, make sure you have a conversation about mental health this Time to Talk Day. Here are a few conversation starters taken from the Time to Talk website:

• Tell someone you appreciate what they’ve done
• Ask someone “how are you?” (and mean it)
• Have a chat over lunch with someone
• Arrange to meet up with someone you care about
• Do a random act of kindness for someone
• Go for a walk with someone
• Start a conversation about the weather.
• Ring (or text) someone you’ve not spoken to for a while