Time to Talk With the RI Mental Health Allies...

We’re supporting Time to Talk day to get the nation talking about mental health. Just a small conversation has the power to make the biggest difference and help break down stigma which is where our amazing Mental Health Allies come in. These Islanders volunteer their time to listen without judgement to anyone at HQ who needs someone to talk to. Let’s get to know this amazing bunch of people …


Tell us a bit about you

I’m 23, originally from Leeds and a proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Why did you want to be a mental health ally?

Mental health still has a strong stigma against it and sometimes society expects men to show no emotion. As someone who has suffered with depression and still suffers from anxiety, I wanted to be a kind ear to people around me, to let them know it’s ok to not to be ok.

What small thing has someone done for you that had made a big difference?

I was chatting with my best friend about how my depression had got worse during lockdown and she sent me a pack of handmade cards. They said things like ‘For when you don’t feel good enough’ and I would scratch off a patch and it would reveal an inspirational quote that would brighten up my day. 

Do you remember a small conversation you’ve had that’s made a big difference to you or someone else?

I remember when I first told my mum I was suffering with my mental health and she told me she did too. To have one of the most important people in my life tell me that they understand was hugely validating and made a big difference.

It’s time to talk because …

You deserve to be able to express how you feel and get the support you need.


Why did you want to be a mental health ally?

When I heard about this initiative I thought about the times I’ve helped friends struggling with their mental wellbeing. The world we’re living in is not the same as it was and that adds an extra challenge on top of what you may have been finding difficult before. Speaking to someone can make the world of difference even if it’s totally unrelated to what is actually troubling you.

What small thing has someone done for you that had made a big difference?

My mum sent me some bath salts when I was having a tough week juggling work and a sick fifteen month old. She recognised that I was struggling but also that I didn’t want to burden her, so she posted me something to cheer me up. It really helped me to know that someone else was there.

Do you remember a small conversation you’ve had that’s made a big difference to you or someone else?

Honestly the number of conversations I’m beginning to have with my colleagues about how we’re all coping has really helped. I’ve found that asking how someone is doing at the beginning or end of a meeting can make all the difference and makes it clear if they want to chat. If they don’t, then that’s fine but it doesn’t hurt to ask the question because then they’ll know you’re there if they change their mind.

It’s time to talk because …

Everything you’re feeling and doing is relevant, no matter how big or small you may think it is.

Tell us a bit about you

I’m Abbey, a thirty something year old nature lover, hiking enthusiast and owner of two rescue greyhounds. I’m originally from Birmingham and confused as to why I haven’t been cast in Peaky Blinders yet.

Why did you want to be a mental health ally?

I was so excited to learn that RI were launching Mental Health Allies and feel proud to work for a company that want to look after the wellbeing of their people. I have a huge passion for this topic, having lived with mental health challenges myself, as well as my close family members. I have struggled with anxiety and depression since I was 14 years old and it has taken me years to admit that to people I care about, let alone business wide! I am hopeful that I will raise more awareness, help reduce the stigma and hopefully encourage other people to talk.

Do you remember a small conversation you’ve had that’s made a big difference to you or someone else?

In my early twenties I was having a real tough time with my depression and had to have a week off work. I was worried about telling work why I was off because of the negative stigma associated with ‘stress’ and them thinking I couldn’t handle my workload. Instead, my manager was amazing and so understanding. I’d never opened up to anyone about my mental health before and her support meant so much to me.

It’s time to talk because …

The more we open up and have honest conversations, the sooner we can break the negative stigma attached to mental health.

Why did you want to be a mental health ally?

I know the impact that support can have on a person and being given the opportunity to help break down mental health stigma is an honour. I have personally experienced the effects of poor mental health as well as those living with me. It’s more important than ever to start the conversations and create safe spaces.

What small thing has someone done for you that had made a big difference?

During the first lockdown my best friend and I started sending each other daily messages wishing one another a good day. We now rarely miss a day of doing it, no matter what we have going on. We’ve both discussed the actual impact this has had on our days. It encourages me to be positive and my best friend, who has BPD, has said it reminds her that she has people who care and helps create a routine.

Do you remember a small conversation you’ve had that’s made a big difference to you or someone else?

When I was very stressed at work, a colleague of mine told me that I needed to speak to my manager. If it hadn’t been for her encouraging words, I would never have had that long overdue conversation. I instantly felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders and since then I’ve made massive steps in both my work and personal life.

It’s time to talk because …

Life’s too short to suffer.

Why did you want to be a mental health ally?

Mental health is so important to me. I have experienced poor mental health first hand and it affects all aspects of life. It can isolate you from everyone and everything you enjoy. Having someone to talk to who can offer support is so important.

What small thing has someone done for you that had made a big difference?

Checking in. It’s a tool I picked up and continue to use and recommend to others. If I don’t feel good, I have a person that I can tell ‘I’m not feeling too good today.’ Admitting it out loud is so comforting because we have a habit of saying we’re fine and putting a brave face on but being able to be honest with a friend is so important.

It’s time to talk because …

You are important. Never forget that. You are a priority.

Talking about mental health doesn’t have to be awkward. Follow these handy tips to make those important chats easier… 

1. Ask questions and listen

2. Think about the time and place

3. Don’t try and fix it 

4. Treat the same

5. Be patient

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