Time to Talk Day: An opportunity to open up

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Recovery and wellbeing on 2nd February, 2023

Today (Thursday 2 February) is Time to Talk Day – the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. The day is all about creating supportive communities by having conversations with family, friends, or colleagues about mental health.

To mark the occasion, Andy Hawkings, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at TALKWORKS and Colleague Wellbeing Trainer and Practitioner at the Devon Wellbeing Hub, has written this piece about the importance of opening up when we’re struggling. Andy says:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come…

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

“Two stanzas from WH Auden’s “Stop All the Clocks”, also for those of a certain age, perhaps, recognisable from stellar 90s Brit-flick and Hugh Grant star-making vehicle “Four Weddings and a Funeral”. Why? Well, Auden’s poem conveys viscerally- overwhelming loss, tragic grief and unrelenting pessimism. Grief and loss come in many forms: a relationship breakdown; a bereavement; a job which compromises your integrity or values; an illness; a feeling of isolation; amongst many others. 

“Having worked in healthcare and education for the last fifteen years, I have seen all forms of grief, distress and wellbeing concerns. That sounds dramatic, but it is certainly not meant to be. Nor should it be. Indeed, it is my genuine hope that we can normalise any wellbeing concerns or distress.  Why? Because it is when we accept our fragility and what it is to struggle that we can open conversations and address the concerns we have. 

“Working as a Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner at TALKWORKS, I am impressed when people come to see me before their mental health concerns have become so pervasive that they are seriously impacting swathes of their day-to-day lives and relationships. It takes great courage and commitment to recognise the need to reach out for support. It is from this point, that we can establish a care pathway to suit the needs of the individual whether that mean receiving my direct support or not. Establishment of the appropriate care pathway is paramount and the foundation upon which to build a better future upon. 

“Time to Talk Day is here to raise further awareness of the need to be open about our struggles and it is something I wholeheartedly endorse. It is an opportunity; an opportunity to be proactive with our struggles. Being proactive in terms of wellbeing has always been important for me both personally and professionally. From April, I will be delivering a series of workshops for the Devon Wellbeing Hub to explore many facets of wellbeing to support staff, be that: problematic relationships; finding meaning and balance in life; building confidence; problem solving financial, career or health issues; and of course ways to address low mood and anxiety. 

“The workshops are another opportunity. An opportunity to not only learn why we experience the struggles we do, but crucially an opportunity to explore them and understand we are not alone in these struggles. I do not promise to offer a cure, nor would I want to, but I can offer a place to help people come together and be proactive in addressing the mucky business that life can inevitably throw at us. 

“I am aware of the challenges life can present us and it would, for me, be an honour if you were to come to one of the forthcoming workshops, assuming there be something which resonates with your needs.  It is from there we can be open. With this in mind; I leave you with part of an alternative poem by WH Auden, detailing what is to be human, accepting, flawed and yet still carry hope:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful

As part of his role in the Devon Wellbeing Hub, Andy will be delivering a series of workshops to all healthcare, social care and police staff across Devon. The following topics will be covered:

  • Introduction to wellbeing and practical strategies
  • Enabling motivation and addressing work/life balance
  • Anxiety: why it happens and how to tackle uncertainty
  • Sleep: why and how to address problematic sleep
  • Self-esteem and Positive Thinking: reset your outlook
  • Communication and Assertiveness: how to get your needs met
  • Maintaining Progress: why consistency and self-compassion count above all else
  • Problem solving: if all else fails

These workshops are due to commence in April 2023 and and more details will be shared nearer the time. Please keep an eye on the Devon Wellbeing Hub Eventbrite page for updates.