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'It's good to talk about mental health' - campaigners take time to chat in Highland capital's Eastgate Shopping Centre at start of tour

By Louise Glen

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Suzie Baines and Karen Lally with mascot Jeely Baby on See Me tour ahead of Time to Talk campaign...Picture: Gary Anthony..
Suzie Baines and Karen Lally with mascot Jeely Baby on See Me tour ahead of Time to Talk campaign...Picture: Gary Anthony..

Two mental health campaigners visited Inverness as part of a 600-mile trip around Scotland, to get people talking about mental health.

Karen Lally and Suzanne Baines are building up to the UK wide Time to Talk campaign by starting conversations across Scotland on a five-day road trip.

Last Wednesday the women stopped in at the Eastgate Shopping Centre, to talk to people about mental health, and how to start conversations with people about mental health.

The women, who volunteer for See Me, the programme to end mental health discrimination, are touring the country for the third time having previously started conversations at some of Scotland’s most famous places, including St Andrews Old Course and Stirling Castle.

Ms Baines, from Erskine, wants to encourage people to talk more about mental health, and see friends and family have the confidence to open up conversations.

She said: “Taking the time to listen to the person who is talking to you can actually be a huge thing to start the change for that person. You might be the first person that has ever actually sat and listened.

“For me personally, having needed somebody like that and being able to speak to someone like that, I feel that is where change happens.

“I think a crucial element to wellbeing and tackling stigma is that we have these conversations.

Ms Lally, from Milngavie, added: “ I think many of the issues in terms of stigma, and the discrimination that comes off the back of that in relation to mental health, is due to lack of understanding and awareness.

“So sharing stories about mental health and lived experience really helps people to understand that we all have mental health. Mental health isn’t always about mental illness, but sometimes we can become ill with our mental health, just like we can become ill with our physical health.

“For me talking is a great way to make this an everyday conversation just like we would talk about any other aspect of our health.”

Wendy Halliday, See Me interim director, said: “This year Time to Talk day is all about is looking at why people might avoid having important conversations on mental health.

“It’s great to have Karen and Suzanne out on the road again, having conversations in as many places as possible, finding out what stops people from talking about mental health, and what encourages them to speak about it.”

Time to Talk day is a UK wide campaign run by See Me in Scotland, Time to Change in England, Times to Change Wales, Change Your Mind in Northern Ireland and See Change in Ireland.

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