By Rebecca Birkbeck, Director of Community and Shared Value

To celebrate Time to Talk Day myself and Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, went along to a Brew and Butties event at Blackburn Rovers Ewood Park stadium.

#TimeToTalk Day, is the UK’s largest conversation on mental health and wellbeing and we’re working with Mind, SAMH (Scottish Association for Mental Health) and Inspire to help grow it even further. It’s all about creating supportive communities by having conversations with family, friends, people in your community or colleagues about mental wellbeing – and we couldn’t have received a warmer, more open welcome from the people we met in this community.

We were joined by local gardening group, Men in Sheds, who come together every Thursday to help Blackburn Rovers Community Trust improve a patch of land near the stadium. Lancashire Mind also attended and explained why it’s so important we all talk about our mental wellbeing.

Having conversations helps your mental wellbeing

From our visit, it was really clear to see how much this group supports one another, how they feel they can be open with each other, and how that in turn was supporting everyone’s mental wellbeing.

They shared how, as men, it can be difficult to open up but how over time, they had formed a bond and had found it easier. For some during the pandemic, the only people they were able to see were in this group and they spoke about each other as brothers. When they’re not been able to meet up, they’ve made sure to stay connected through WhatsApp and on the day were checking in with members who couldn’t make it to ensure they were ok.

This was just one example of the many events and activities that happened right across the UK to celebrate Time to Talk Day and #TimetoTalk was top trending on Twitter on the day. It was so great to see the thousands of examples of how people were getting involved, including Co-op colleagues and our Member Pioneers. Supporting mental wellbeing is an integral part of our vision of Co-operating for a Fairer World and seeing how colleagues and members support is making this happen was incredible to see. 

Blackburn Rovers Community Trust is a current Local Community Fund cause, supporting men whether they have struggled with their own mental wellbeing or just need a space to talk to likeminded men. In addition, we also fund Lancashire Mind through money raised by colleagues and members for our national charity partnership with Mind, SAMH and Inspire.

Let’s keep talking

It’s important we carry on the conversation around mental wellbeing every day of the year, not just on Time to Talk Day. We know that conversations about mental wellbeing have the power to change lives. Our research, Together Through Tough Times, shows how important open conversations in communities are to support everyone’s mental wellbeing. We all have mental health, by talking about it we can support ourselves and others.

We know how hard it can be to open up and, for lots of us, we may not know what to say. 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 around conversations about mental wellbeing which may support you too.

Supporting your own mental wellbeing is important 

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.

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.

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.