By Steve Murrells, Co-op CEO 

As I’ve said before, looking after our mental health and wellbeing is so important. This is especially true now more then ever given that one in four of us experience a mental health problem in any given year and the pandemic continues to have an impact with 65% of adults and 68% of young people reporting their mental health has got worse. So, it’s almost certain that someone you love or care for will be affected.  

That’s why I wanted to remind you all that today is Time to Talk Day, which is part of our wider partnership with Mind, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Wellbeing) and Inspire and is also an important part of the response to our Co-op vision too. 

The aim of Time to Talk Day is to encourage communities up and down the country to have more conversations about mental health and wellbeing – whether that’s with family, friends, colleagues or even just someone in your local community that you see in passing. 

If, like me, this feels a little outside your comfort zone, please remember this doesn’t have to be done in a heavy handed or overally formal way. Often the most supportive conversations around mental health and wellbeing can come from an informal chat with someone. Saying something as simple as “how’s everything with you” or “just wanted to check in with you” as part of an everyday conversation can often help more than you realise. It lets the other person know you’re someone they can talk you if they want to. 

So please, take a few minutes to take a look at the helpful information our Community and Shared Value team has pulled together on mental health and wellbeing and how you can get involved in Time to Talk Day. 

Why it’s crucial we talk about mental health and wellbeing 

 Simply put, conversations about mental health and wellbeing have the power to change lives. Our recent research, Together Through Tough Times, shows how important open conversations in communities are to support everyone’s mental wellbeing. We all have our physical health to take care of, the same is true for our mental health too – and whilst physical activity helps both, just simply talking about our mental health and how we’re feeling is such an important way we can all support ourselves and each other.  

How you can join the conversation 

We know how hard it can be to open up and, for lots of us, we may not know what to say. That’s why we’re encouraging you, if you feel comfortable, to share a short video on your social media with a piece of advice for your younger self for having conversations about mental wellbeing.  

The idea is to reflect on whatever resonates most, but some ideas for this could include:  

  • A message of encouragement to your younger selves for opening up  
  • Giving yourselves the words to vocalise what you were going through during a hard time  
  • Reflecting on a conversation you’ve had with a loved one about mental wellbeing, or wished you’d had 

When sharing on social media, please use #TimeToTalk and #ItsWhatWeDo in your posts. 

Take a look at some of the messages Steve and a few of our Co-op Leaders have shared on what they would say to their younger selves to help get the conversation started.  

You can also join the national conversation on social media by sharing content from Social Hub and using #TimeToTalk and #ItsWhatWeDo in your posts or visit Co-operate, our online community centre, which is all about bringing people together to make good things happen. Find resources such as posters, conversation starters and other fun activities to get you talking. 

Co-op are raising £8m for Mind, SAMH and Inspire to bring communities together to improve mental wellbeing. Along with delivering Time to Talk Day 2022, these vital funds are providing new services in over 50 local communities across the UK to support people’s mental wellbeing.  

Our current fundraising week ends on 6 February. Get involved and help us hit our £8m target! To find out more, download your fundraising pack.  

Supporting your own mental health and wellbeing is important  

Even a small improvement to your wellbeing can help you better manage your mental health. Our ‘Be kind to your mind’ guide has ways to support your own and others mental wellbeing.  

Helping others can have a positive impact on your own wellbeing. You can find things to do and groups in your area to support at Co-operate, our online community centre.  

As a colleague, there’s support available to you; from counselling with our provider Lifeworks, to GP services via Smart Health, to Gympass our physical health and wellbeing platform. You can find out more about the resources on our Wellbeing support pages.