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Highlanders are being encouraged to get involved in day surrounding mental health

By Imogen James

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Volunteer spokesperson Jamie Donoghue.
Volunteer spokesperson Jamie Donoghue.

People across the Highlands are being encouraged to get involved in Time to Talk Day which aims to start the conversation on mental health.

On February 3, a mix of online and in-person activities will take place across Scotland allowing people to open up about their struggles.

The charity behind the event, See Me, will offer coffee and conversation, zoom quizzes and workplace discussions as part of the day.

It aims to support communities across the country to discuss mental health openly.

See Me director Wendy Halliday said: “We all have mental health, and any of us could go through a period where we struggle. So we want everyone to feel comfortable talking about mental health – whenever they like.

“With this year’s Time to Talk Day, we’re looking at all the different ways you can start a conversation on mental health, whether that’s in person, over the phone or online, but with a real focus as well on what we can all do to make sure we’re listening, not just talking.

“By opening up or offering a listening ear, we’re making real progress towards breaking down the stigma that continues to exist around mental health. However you do it, have a conversation about mental health.”

See Me volunteer spokesperson Jamie Donoghue has struggled with anxiety and agoraphobia since the age of 18. For him, a simple conversation was key to getting the help and support he needed.

Jamie said: “For the longest time, I didn’t really understand exactly what I had. I didn't discuss it with anyone. The day that things started to get better was the day I went to my mum and said, ‘Mum, I've got a problem here, there's something going on, I've got an issue.’

“So much of my life was controlled by anxiety. When I first spoke about it, it felt like a weight off my shoulders. The moment I talked about it, I also started losing the stigma over it. And every extra person I told about it, I felt a little less shame about what I had, I felt like I was taking ownership of it.

“For Time to Talk Day, I’d encourage everyone to have a conversation – even just ask a friend how they are. If you notice someone who's maybe cancelling plans a bit more, maybe you'll notice slight differences in them – quite often, there's a lot going on under the surface. I found it quite difficult to pluck up the courage to talk. So I’d really like people to take the opportunity to perhaps not just speak to others if you’re struggling, but speak to your friends if you think there's something wrong with them.”

To get involved, go online.

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