Forterra News

Time to Talk Day – the nation’s biggest mental health conversation

Today (3rd February) is Time to Talk Day – the nation’s biggest mental health conversation. It’s the day that friends, families, communities, and workplaces come together to talk, listen and change lives. Time to Talk Day 2022 is run by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness in England, in partnership with Co-op.

In the last year, we have recruited and trained 60 volunteer Mental Health First Aiders representing all areas of our business. Here, some of them share why they believe making time to talk is important.

The importance of making time to talk

Nick Breen, a strapper at our Kings Dyke plant, is also a safety representative and a Mental Health First Aider: “As a mental health first aider, I am often the first port of call. The best thing about it is seeing or hearing the relief when they realise there is help available and we are here to listen.

“I hope Time to Talk Day encourages people to talk more freely about mental health and helps anyone who might be suffering find the strength to come forward and ask for help”.

Senior Quantity Surveyor at our Bison plant in Hoveringham, Alana Cayce, has worked with us for over 20 years: “Everyone has life struggles at some point or another, which may affect their mental health, and just knowing this can provide some comfort that you are not alone. Talking openly to others about difficulties you may be having can lift the burden you may be feeling of keeping it all to yourself and help you can gain ideas and support from others who may have dealt with similar issues.

“Taking that time to listen to someone may mean the difference in them having a terrible day or going home with at least the feeling that they can cope and see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel”.

Head of Health and Safety at Forterra, Paul Humphreys: “I have had my own personal journey with mental health and felt I could perhaps use this to help others who may need it. As one of the company’s qualified mental health first aiders, I am always encouraging those who work closely alongside each other to keep an eye on those around them and seek help for themselves and others if needed. Looking out for those around you is a simple yet effective way to help, and Time to Talk Day is a good reminder of that.

“At Forterra, we have a wide variety of roles. For example, we have those undertaking office-based roles mostly sitting at desks, others who stay on their feet all day working in our plants around the country, and HGV drivers who spend extended periods isolated from others. Each of these roles brings different wellbeing challenges, and we are always looking to ensure that our help and advice remains relevant to everyone and they never feel isolated.”

Tips for talking – and listening!

Mind provides a range of ‘talking tips’ to help us all to be open to the idea of talking, encouraging us to have conversations so we can help ourselves and others. While it isn’t always easy, it doesn’t have to be awkward and being there for someone can make a big difference:

  • Ask questions and listen

Asking questions can give a person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgmental, like “how does that affect you?” or “what does it feel like?”

  • Think about the time and place

Sometimes it’s easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. So, if you do talk in person, you might want to chat while you are doing something else. You could start a conversation when you’re walking, cooking or stuck in traffic. However, don’t let the search for the perfect place put you off!

  • Don’t try and fix it

It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time but try to resist the urge to offer quick fixes to what they’re going through. Learning to manage or recover from a mental health problem can be a long journey, and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to listen.

  • Treat them the same

When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. And that means when a friend or loved one opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple. Do the things you’d normally do.

  • Be patient

No matter how hard you try, some people might not be ready to talk about what they’re going through. That’s ok – the fact that you’ve tried to talk to them about it may make it easier for them to open up another time.

For more information about the topics raised here, visit: