Why small talk is more important than ever, according to Samaritans

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A charity is reminding people maintaining ‘small talk’ and conversations in the wake of the pandemic is important for promoting good mental health.

The Samaritans says its campaign ‘Small Talk Saves Lives’ is just as important now restrictions are easing as it was during the pandemic.

Felix, who has been a volunteer at the charity for 15 years, says simple conversations can sometimes be enough to help people to cope with their worries.

He said: "If somebody is there considering taking their own life and you walk up and you say ‘sorry to bother you, but can tell me where I can get a coffee?’, that breaks the thought process and it changes the whole situation that they’re in.

"That could be enough to get them into a conversation and you could’ve saved a life."

Roughly 40,000 approaches for help were made at the Taunton branch last year Credit: ITV West Country

From its small branch in Taunton town centre, talking and more importantly listening, is what Samaritans volunteers have been doing for more than 50 years.

Approximately 40,000 approaches for help were made there last year but the volunteers stress you do not need to be an expert to support someone in need.

Felix said: "If you saw somebody who was perhaps considering taking their own life, they are at a pretty low point, obviously.

"And if you walked up to them, you know how to start a conversation - we all know how to start a conversation.

"What we want to do is remind people they know how to do it and to encourage you to do it."

The Small Talk Saves Lives message is being promoted in partnership with the rail industry to empower the public to act to prevent suicide on the railways and other settings.

  • When life is difficult, Samaritans are here – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at jo@samaritans.org, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch

With three quarters of adults surveyed saying they used small talk during the pandemic, the importance of human connection has perhaps never been more acute.

We’re all far more aware now of things around us that were never there before. There’s far more to worry about now than we ever really knew about.

"It was probably there but we didn’t know about it so yes I think now the need is as great as ever and I don’t see it going away, I really don’t.

"A lot of people are still quite anxious. A lot of people still feel alone.

"We’re not quite sure how close we can get to people, physically.

"There’s always a good reason to remind the public how they can help."

Where to go to get support with your mental health

There are multiple charities, including Mind, who are here to help. Below is a list of a few websites along with phone numbers of different charities who you can talk to.