Here are five ways to take part in Time To Talk Day on Thursday 4 February, whatever your role, recommended by Lawscot Wellbeing.

Time To Talk Day is organised by Time to Change every year to encourage us to speak about mental health and break down the stigma. This year, it takes place on 4 February and, in many ways, the day comes at a critical time.

For many right now, pandemic fatigue is starting to set in. Perhaps people feel they are just ‘hanging on’ and asking how others are doing has slipped down the agenda, as there is ‘nothing new’ to report.

Even those of us who were getting on fairly well with our homeworking situation last year and with Christmas a hopeful milestone to work towards, might feel demotivated as the new year starts, not ourselves, a bit flat, or perhaps showing symptoms of something more serious.

All this means that getting people to talk about how they feel and making sure people are listened to is hugely important.

So, here are our top five suggestions for marking Time to Talk Day, whatever your role.

You could aim to do them all or just one. This year’s theme is all about ‘the power of small’ after all - just one action could make a difference to help people feel supported.

You can download lots of resources and find out more about Time to Talk Day on the Time to Change website.

1. For managers: schedule individual calls with your team to talk about how they are getting on, but not just about work!

A lot of the time, meetings with managers are focused on progress linked to work. When was the last time you spoke to someone to find out how they are getting on personally? How is their family getting on in lockdown? What’s worrying them about the pandemic? Are they getting enough social contact, or out and about enough?

How we feel in our personal lives undoubtedly bleeds into our working lives, so asking about work alone won’t help uncover the root cause of any problems. You might then find there are things you can do as a manager to help mitigate any stress or worries, if you give your team member the opportunity to be listened to and know you’re trying to help.

2. For senior leaders: send an all-staff email around that’s more personal than normal

There is a huge amount of power in leading by example and showing vulnerability as a leader. Talking about preserving mental health as a leader can help show everyone else that it’s not a weakness or a barrier to success. It helps break down that stereotype of needing to be endlessly strong and resilient. You don’t have to get too personal – you could talk about things like missing social interactions, how you’re balancing family life with work or how you boost your motivation when it drops.

For inspiration, have a look at the blogs written and recorded by senior members of the profession as part of our Pass the Badge campaign that we ran in October 2020.

3. For everyone: meet a colleague for a walk

We might not live near our most immediate colleagues, but is there anyone you work with internally or externally who lives close by? You could have a walking meeting or just a catch-up. Thinking out of the box and seeing them in person could help build those relationships that some of us feel we have lost over the last few months by being behind a screen. If you can’t see someone in person, try a phone call while you’re out and about rather than behind your desk – a change in environment can encourage us to think differently and be more open.

4. For wellbeing champions/ healthy working lives group members etc: organise a ‘bun ‘n’ blether’ session

At the Law Society during lockdown, we have held several successful virtual sessions where colleagues can come along to be split into small groups to chat and have a piece of cake together. Simply get people to sign up, then allocate them into randomised breakout rooms of three or four, where people can chat about how they’re getting on and catch up with people they might not have spoken to for a while.

5. For HR-type roles or people managers: organise a staff roundtable

Running a session focused on mental health and wellbeing can be a really good way to get people talking and learn how the organisation can better support staff. Some colleagues might not be keen to participate in a roundtable and might prefer an anonymous survey, but for others it’s a welcome way to offload and share ideas. Getting someone external to facilitate might help people feel comfortable, rather than senior leaders running the session. Also, having some discussion points ready or inviting people to speak in turn can help direct the conversation and help people get the most out of it.

Planning to get involved? Let us know by emailing wellbeing@lawscot.org.uk. We can share any social posts, or it's just great to see how firms and organisations are taking part in Time To Talk Day.

Marking mental health days is so much more than a tick-box exercise

Olivia Moore, Careers and Wellbeing Manager at the Law Society of Scotland, discusses how marking mental health days can be an important way for employers to engage staff, break down stigma and raise confidence to speak about mental health issues.