Today (Thursday 1 February) is National ‘Time to Talk’ day, a chance to start a conversation with friends, family or colleagues about mental health, with the aim of reducing the stigma around sharing our feelings seeking support.
To mark this year’s ‘Time to Talk’ day, NHS Greater Manchester has teamed up with professional Basketball player Kofi Josephs, who is sharing his own mental health journey to encourage others to be able to speak out and talk about their own experiences. Kofi is sharing his ‘Story of Hope’ so that mental health becomes “just another thing to talk about”.
Kofi represented his country playing basketball. He now also models and runs a Mental Health community company and streetwear brand, helping to destigmatize mental health through empowerment and inspiration. But alongside his success, like many others, Kofi has struggled with his mental health and even considered suicide. Now he wants to share his story to encourage others to talk about suicide.
Kofi said: “On the face of it, everything can look great, but people can be really struggling underneath. And that’s why I want to be open about my experience.
I want to bring mental health to culture because once you destigmatise it and reduce the taboo, people aren’t scared to talk about it. It’s just another thing to talk about.
That’s the big passion for me, and I’m just here to support in any way I can. I want people to know that it’s okay to struggle.”
Now Kofi is established as a fashion model and he’s developing his own clothing brand. He delivers keynote speeches drawing on his own experiences, urging people to open up about their mental health and find the support they need. He hopes that by sharing his experience, he can help break the stigma around mental ill health and suicide, and help others realise they are not alone.
Stories of Hope
Stories of Hope are a pivotal part of the Greater Manchester Shining a Light on Suicide campaign, which aims to bring the issue of suicide out of the dark, break stigma and help people find the support they need.
Judd Skelton, Strategic Commissioning Lead for Suicide Prevention & Bereavement Support for NHS Greater Manchester, said: “We are really grateful to Kofi, and all those who share their Stories of Hope, for opening up about their struggles with mental health and suicide.
“Time to Talk Day is an opportunity for the nation to have a wider conversation about mental health. The more we talk, the more we can break that stigma, which is what our Shining a Light on Suicide campaign is all about.
Suicide is preventable, and the earlier we talk about what may be on our mind, the sooner we can share the load and reduce things reaching crisis point. Talking about our feelings can feel scary or embarrassing, but it is the first step to getting help. We hope that Stories of Hope, like Kofi’s, give people who may be struggling, hope that things can change for the better and encourage them to talk about how they are feeling to a trusted friend, work colleague or family member or their GP. Samaritans are also available 24/7 if speaking to a stranger is easier – just call 116 123”
Mental Health support
One in four adults in the UK will experience mental health challenges at some point. Support is available – you are not alone. You can call the Samaritans if you are having a difficult time – day or night, every day – on 116 123.
Greater Manchester Crisis Helplines
Free 24/7 helplines for anyone of any age who needs mental health support:
- Bolton, Manchester, Salford, Trafford and Wigan 0800 953 0285
- Bury, Heywood, Middleton & Rochdale, Oldham, Stockport and Tameside & Glossop 0800 014 9995
If there’s an immediate risk of danger to life, ring 999.
Support for people bereaved by suicide
Losing someone to suicide can be extremely painful and emotionally complex.
The grieving process is often complicated and typically lasts longer than other types of bereavement. Support is available and we can all play a role in helping those affected
Both the Greater Manchester Bereavement Service and Shining A Light On Suicide offer support and information. This includes Suicide Bereavement Practitioners who can support those affected in the days, months and years after the loss of a loved one.
The Support After Suicide Partnership provides guidance for those who have lost a child, sibling or friend to suicide.
There are suicide bereavement peer support groups in Greater Manchester, so those affected can speak to and gain support from others with similar experiences: