New polling reveals public's willingness to talk about mental health

In advance of Time to Talk Day (TTTD) 2023, which takes place on Thursday 2nd February, UK-wide polling on behalf of Mind, SAMH and Change Your Mind commissioned UK-wide polling of the public’s willingness to have crucial conversations about mental health.

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The results paint a picture of a desire to support one another but they also suggests that they we are keen to learn more about helping those in need.

When asked to identify the frequency of the conversations they have about their own mental health, 9% of people said that they make space to talk about their mental health at least once every 24 hours. One in 10 chat about the subject every two to six days and 14% do so on a weekly basis. A further 10% discuss it every few weeks and 17% engaged in such activity once a month. Overall, 65% of people in Northern Ireland make some space when they can. Both figures place Northern Ireland in the middle of the pack in the UK.

Fortunately, an overwhelming majority of respondents (77%) consider talking about mental health to be important. This is a really important figure, demonstrating the extent to which people understand the importance of good mental health. This largely matches the UK average.

As for supporting peers, a very sizeable section of the population (82%) makes space to check in with friends, family members or colleagues. We in Northern Ireland are more likely to ask others about how they are doing than anywhere else.

When asked to identify the factors that would make it easier to talk about mental health, large numbers cited more knowledge and understanding of mental ill health (41%), as well as tips on how to start a conversation (37%). Four in 10 thought that more accessible local mental health services would be helpful and 30% suggested that those services should be more affordable. Just over a quarter (26%) stated that even something as simple as a warm community space would benefit those who need assistance with their mental health. This latter point is particularly relevant during a time when those public venues are facing closures and cuts.

Respondents went on to outline the things that prevent them from seeking support. One in four said that they aren’t sure how to raise the topic of mental health in conversation.

The state of the economy is having an impact here, too. On the one hand, people feel that their mental health, along with the ability to care for it, is suffering due to the state of their personal finances. In addition to that, the general sense that society is under a great deal of strain creates an impression that explaining one’s own mental health worries is insignificant next to such a worrying fiscal outlook. The notion that one is being a ‘bother’ by talking about mental health concerns, particularly at a time when ‘bigger issues’ exist, was particularly visible, with 37% of responses focusing on this answer.

Stigma, which is a long-standing challenge we continue to tackle, also represents a notable obstacle. Fears around judgement and discrimination were powerful deterrents (27%).

These latter two numbers exceeded results from anywhere in Great Britain, suggesting that work around stigma remains a key activity going forward.

If you would like to see more of our TTTD 23 polling, feel free to contact us.

To learn more about the campaign, please click here