Time to Talk Day is organised by Time for Change to challenge the current status quo with people who have mental health illnesses, and the judgement and isolation they feel. On 6th February every year, there are a number of events and discussions about connecting with others by starting a conversation; listening to others and encouraging people to discuss mental health issues they might be suffering from.
I am absolutely sure that having a human connection with other people helps everyone to be more connected with others on a human level. There was some interesting research, published in Psychology Today, about the fact that Millennials are more lonely than other generations. Read the article here.
Now as with all research, it is useful to look behind the data; the information is clear that people from 23 – 38 are more lonely. But this could also be related to the stage of life they are in but also, more importantly the type of survey made. When you are slightly older you are more likely to have a partner and family; or if you have chosen to remain single, it is likely you have built a network; a community of people around you.
However, one point that was highlighted, was that there was a causal link between how long people spent on social media and personal well being; if they reduced the amount of time spent on social media, their personal wellbeing was improved. YIKES! And with respect, Millennials are more likely to be using social media; messaging, texting, posting, rather than having conversations with others.
A couple of years ago, I attended a lecture at one of the Social Media giants, given by one of their female “Stars”. The topic was on networking; this was completely online. A statement she said struck me “I often discover colleagues live near me, so I connect with them on xxxxx platform. We than have a connection”. But they were in the same office; couldn’t she walk round and say “Hi!” And here is the problem; like many people, I have huge numbers of connections on various social media platforms, but I don’t have best friends from them. I don’t necessarily feel I can open up; get personal support. And that is the problem; people are losing the human connection, living their lives online: for validity and entertainment.
Today is Time to Talk day; and I don’t mean “Talking” online but face to face. Asking people how they are; really listening to their response; showing you care. It is also a day to reassure individuals that it is OK to feel ‘not alright’ and to reach out for help.
So what can you do to ensure your friends and colleagues are OK? Ask them the question; and ask them again if they do a standard “Ok” or look unhappy. Take them for a walk; often walking alongside someone rather than looking straight into their face can help them feel more relaxed. Being in another environment empowers people to think differently.
The sad thing is that there are unhappy, lonely people around you; they might be members of your family, friends or colleagues. You are connected with them online, but there is a real power of reaching out face to face to have a real conversation. And from there you will be able to support them. So let’s create Time to talk today.