Time to Talk Day: Inspirational West Country faces talk about their experiences of mental health

A fear of 'awkward conversations' means people are losing out on mental health support from loved ones, it has been revealed.

New figures released on Time to Talk Day show that more than half of people in the West Country say they wouldn't to tell anyone if they had problems with their mental health.

They also revealed that a third would put off speaking to a friend who is struggling to avoid an awkward conversation.

When asked why, some of the top reasons in the West Country were:

  • Fear of saying the wrong thing

  • Worried about seeming rude

  • Feeling they don’t know enough about mental health to be any help

Now, faces across the West Country are sharing their experience of mental health to encourage others to be more open.

We've asked a number of people throughout our region - including actor Joe Sims and blogger Heidi Loughlin - to tell us their stories of poor mental health, and how they look after themselves.

It comes as 34% of those surveyed said keeping a stiff upper lip - and not talking about mental health or emotions - is still important.

Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about mental health, and help break the stigma that still surrounds talking about it.

JOE SIMS - Broadchurch actor Joe Sims has spoken openly of his struggles with poor mental health, and how he uses mechanisms like going for a run, or a pint to cope.

"I think it's important to break the stigma that asking for help is a sign of weakness, it's the antithesis of that for me - it's the absolute sign of strength, it's okay not to be okay."

Our initiative is part of ITV's new mental wellness campaign 'Britain Get Talking' which was launched on by Ant and Dec during Britain's Got Talent in 2019.

The campaign is supported by Young Minds and Mind, and is the first initiative in the ITV Campaign for Mental Wellness, a five year project in partnership with the charity Mind.

GAVIN THORPE - mental health advocate Gavin is one of the founding members of a 'Talk Club' for men to encourage them to chat more openly about their mental health.

He has described the problem of male suicide as an "epidemic".

Mental health affects everyone, but some may have days where it is poorer than others.

Charity Young Mind said: "There is evidence that building good relationships is positive for our wellbeing.

"Having strong relationships means that we can share our feelings and know we’re being understood. It means we can support those around us as well if they are going through a difficult time."

NIAMH TAYLOR - a student in Bath who lives with Borderline personality disorder. It's the most commonly recognised personality disorder and is characterised by a pattern of emotional instability and unstable relationships with other people.

Niamh has lived with poor mental health since she was just 14 and says having a conversation "and it going well, changed and saved my life."

HEIDI LOUGHLIN - a mother diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2015. She fell pregnant and made the decision to delay treatment for herself to give unborn Ally the best chance of survival. But, tragically, when Ally was born 12 weeks early in December 2015, she contracted an infection, and died just days later.

"Everybody at some point will go through a dark time in their life and, to just be talking about it, it's just a huge weight off your shoulders. You don't feel like the only person in the world, and talking is something you should never underestimate."

Do you need help?

  • Mind: "We won't give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect"

  • Samaritans: Providing confidential emotional support. Call 116 123.

  • NHS: Visit your GP, or call NHS 111