Today marks national anti-stigma campaign Time to Change’s annual #TimeToTalk Day. Held each year on the first Thursday in February, #TimeToTalk Day aims to break down barriers and get the nation talking about its mental health.
Despite estimates that one in four – if not more – people will have a mental health condition at some point during their lives, talking about mental illness is still sometimes treated as a taboo.
And yet talking to the people in our lives – from friends and family to employers and colleagues - can play a huge part in supporting and maintaining good mental health, as well as helping to overcome difficulties as they arise.
In addition to being shown to reduce stigma within society, there is also evidence that talking about mental health it can actually aid recovery and reduce symptoms.
The benefits of talking therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), where patients work with a therapist to identify and evaluate thoughts and feelings that can cause anxiety or depression, can help provide practical ways for people to monitor their own thoughts and change their behaviours.
However, recent research by one of our member trusts, the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, and King’s College London also found that patients undergoing CBT displayed stronger connections between key areas - particularly, the brain’s threat centre and the areas involved in thinking and reasoning - associated with long-term recovery from psychosis.
The lead author of the study Dr Liam Mason from King’s College London said: “This research challenges the notion that the existence of physical brain differences in mental health disorders somehow makes psychological factors or treatments less important.
“Unfortunately, previous research has shown that this ‘brain bias’ can make clinicians more likely to recommend medication but not psychological therapies. This is especially important in psychosis, where only one in ten people who could benefit from psychological therapies are offered them.”
Research like this chimes with what we feel in our day to day lives: talking to people, having conversations, can help. Speaking to someone in your life about mental health can be transformational. So don’t leave it just to the professionals. By getting everyone talking about mental health we can open the door to breaking down stereotypes and taking the stigma out of something that affects us all. That’s why at the Cavendish Square Group we think it’s #TimeToTalk.
For more information in the study mentioned above, see here - http://www.slam.nhs.uk/media/news/study-reveals-for-first-time-that-talking-therapy-changes-the-brain%E2%80%99s-wiring