Two years ago I published my very first blog post on Time To Talk Day. Even in two years things have changed markedly. Thankfully, in schools, the workplace and online we seem much more open to discussing topics like mental health, wellbeing and self-care. There is still work to be done but progress is being made.
In 2016 in my classroom Time To Talk Day was about trying to combat the stigma then (and to a certain extent still) attached to mental health by highlighting facts like:
- 16 million people in the UK experience a mental illness.
- Three in four mental illnesses start in childhood.
- 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
Shocking facts but ones that the young people in my classroom are fairly well versed in now.
So this year I picked up on the Time To Change charity’s message about the power of small conversations making a BIG difference and decided to promote this idea. The students talked about hopes and fears common to people their age and also shared tips for wellbeing. It was lovely to hear the conversations evolve.
It got me thinking.
Which seemingly small conversation has, with hindsight, made a big difference to me?
What has been said to me over the years which seemed innocuous and insignificant at the time, yet has had a important and positive impact?
And so I recalled a very dear friend speaking to me nearly twenty years ago and saying:
” I’m worried about you. Recently you’ve lost the sparkle from your eyes. “
Even though it was said, almost in passing, so long ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. We were in the university library. At a table by a window with the rain pouring down outside. I remember it so vividly because I remember the feelings it brought about. A knowledge crept in that someone cared about me.
Someone had noticed my sadness and upset and had taken the time to show concern.
Someone wanted to help.
And so those few word left me feeling a little better. They gave me a lift. They spurred me on to accept some help and support.
Over the years I have used those words as a marker to measure my mental wellbeing (and also that of the people around me).
Has the sparkle gone?
Has it gone momentarily?
Or has it been missing awhile?
Do I need to seek out some help again just as I had been encouraged to that day?
Or do I need to support someone else in doing so?
And so I’m hoping the message from my little anecdote is clear.
We can all help each other.
I’m talking about those quickly fitted in chats, the squeezed in conversations into a busy day.
Small conversations can make a BIG difference.
Thank you to my lovely friend who looks out for me and so many other people in her life. You know who you are.