One in four of us are affected by mental health every year, and many of us have experienced low moods, anxiety and stress at some point in our lives.

Award-winning mental health provider Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust will be getting behind Time to Talk Day, on Thursday 1 February with a series of activities which aim to inspire people to talk about mental health. People will be sharing their experience online and the Care Trust will be encouraging people to talk about mental health in supermarkets, cafes, at the local barbers, with their local cabbie and across the community in a bid to get people chatting about how they are feeling.

The day is part of Time to Change’s national campaign, which aims to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness by getting people to talk openly about issues that can affect us all.  Activities led by the Trust to spark conversations in schools, homes and workplaces will include Care Trust staff pledging their support by taking a ‘pledge pic’, which will be shared across the Trust’s social media in the run-up to the event.  In a bid to get people pledging and chatting the Bradford Bulls, Bradford City Football Club commentator Jason Thornton, Starbucks Centenary Square, Don’t Tell Titus Bar/Restaurant, BCB Radio, Emmerdale’s Amy Walsh, Bradford Metropolitan District Council, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Czajka Care Group, West Yorkshire Police and the Telegraph and Argus will be getting behind the campaign.

The Trust is encouraging the local community to get behind the campaign by pledging their support on social media using @BDCFT #BDCTTimeToTalk.  For further details and to download pledge cards visit the Care Trust’s website at www.bdct.nhs.uk/news-events/events/time-talk-2018.

In the run up to Time to Talk Day the Care Trust will be working in partnership with colleges across the district and has invited students to pledge their support to get talking about their mental wellbeing by posting pledge pictures on social media.  Budding photographers will take snaps in a location of their choice – up the top of mountain, at home, in a broom cupboard, at a selfie station or with an all-star cast of friends, family or pets.  Students have been encouraged to be as creative as possible to be in with a chance of winning a prize.  A panel of judges including the Care Trust’s Paul Hogg, Director of Corporate Affairs, Councillor Fozia Shaheen who is also the mental health champion for Bradford Council and Salts Mill’s Robin Silver will select the winner and two runners-up. The winners will be revealed on Time to Talk Day on the Trust’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

The free NHS service, MyWellbeing College, designed to help people navigate their way through life’s ups and downs, will also be backing the campaign and will be encouraging people to get talking about everyday problems that can affect our mood. The service, run in partnership by Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and local voluntary and community organisations, aims to increase personal wellbeing. People can register themselves online at www.bmywellbeingcollege.nhs.uk or join a group six week course, whatever suits their needs. Phone advice or one-to-one courses at a range of locations are also available and the website offers a range of free guides and tools to help people better manage life’s ups and downs.

Thirty seven year old Andrew Wild would like to inspire people to talk about mental health, to help people understand they are not alone. Andrew experienced low mood  and decided to enrol on a MyWellbeing College course and has never looked back, crediting the course with helping him get his mental health back on track. The course helped Andrew to recognise the importance of talking, not only to trained professionals available through the service, but also to friends.

Elaborating further Andrew explained: “To have that communication with someone who’s impartial from family and friends, someone I could talk to about anything, really helped me to get to the root of the problem.  You’ve got to talk – completing the course has resulted in me having a new look on life, a confidence with a happiness that I am doing well because of the tools that have been given to me on the course.”

Andrew added: “At first I felt like I didn’t want to chat to friends but then I realised after I’d been on the course that you need to chat to friends.  You need to be honest and be able to say to your best friend ‘I’m not good today, I don’t feel well today, I feel sad, I feel upset.’ That friend will help you, that friend will be there to pick you up and be there to listen, give advice and understand.  You have to help yourself by talking; it’s a good to talk.”

Starting a conversation might seem daunting but simply sending a text, checking in on a friend or sharing something on social media can break the ice.  Our wellbeing top tips and courses can be found at www.bmywellbeingcollege.nhs.uk

The MyWellbeing College is open to anyone over the age of 16 who is registered with a GP in Bradford, Wharfedale, Airedale or Craven.  People don’t have to go through their GP to enrol on a course, they can register online at www.bmywellbeingcollege.nhs.uk or give the enrolment team a call on 0300 555 5551 to chat through the range of options available.