To link in with Mental Health Awareness Week, AHPScot are delighted to repost this blog from last year by Breathing Space…
By Corinna Davies, Communications Manager (Breathing Space & NHS Living Life)
You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘It’s good to talk’. You may have even seen the BT advert in the ’90s which coined the slogan. Bob Hoskins’ famous delivery of those four simple words changed BT’s fortunes at the time. And they successfully celebrated the virtues of talking with loved ones to improve relationships.
I think we’re getting a bit better at talking about our feelings. I sometimes wonder whether the greater challenge is being good listeners?
I’m not afraid to admit I sometimes struggle to be a an effective listener. Although most of us try to filter out our own thoughts and reactions when we are listening, it can be challenging not to immediately think of our own anecdotes or or experiences in response to what we hear. I have to stop myself anticipating what the person is going to say and instead truly focus on the words being spoken. Listening really is a skill.
Listening is the foundation of good communication
Relationships and friendships, where we feel listened to, can have a huge positive impact on our sense of wellbeing. Being listened to helps us to feel ‘connected’, contributing to improved feelings of self-worth, self-confidence and happiness. Talking through a problem with someone who is truly listening can help you to ‘unburden’. For some it can feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders.
In a mental health context, talking and listening are clearly very important. Mental ill-health is a major public health challenge in Scotland. One in four of us will experience
a mental health problem at some time in our lives. Being able to talk to someone about our thoughts, and feel that we are being heard, can be invaluable.
Sometimes it’s easier to talk about problems and emotions if we don’t know the person who is doing the listening. Breathing Space is a free phone service, available in the evenings and weekends, for anyone experiencing difficulties in their life – trained advisors are able to offer listening and advice.
Year of Listening campaign launched
This year is Scotland’s Year of Listening. It’s an initiative led by Breathing Space and another mental health telephone service, NHS Living Life, alongside other national organisations. It aims to raise awareness that listening, and being listened to, is good for your mental health.
The campaign was launched in February 2016 and provides an opportunity for us all to demonstrate our commitment to be better listeners. Could you be a better listener?
I’ve chosen a few of my favourite quotes about listening from the Year of Listening Pledge Board for this blog. The Pledge Board features snippets from a wide range of organisations and individuals across Scotland highlighting their own experience of listening and what listening means to them. They confirm to me that in addition to talking about problems and emotions, it is indeed ‘good to listen’.
If you would like to pledge your support to the Year of Listening campaign and to promoting listening skills you can email firstname.lastname@example.org with your own quote for the Pledge Board. There is a also Year of Listening pack available, with information about listening organisations and ways to improve your listening skills through organisations such as COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland), which is Scotland’s counselling skills charity.
You can also visit the Year of Listening Photo Gallery to see where the Year of Listening selfie sticks have travelled across Scotland.
Whether you are a friend, parent, sibling, spouse, neighbour or carer…
…take time to listen today.
Breathing Space is a free phone service available on 0800 83 85 87 for anyone feeling low, stressed or anxious. Open 6pm-2am (Mon-Fri) and 24 hours at the weekend.
NHS Living Life is a free phone service which offers appointments with a Self-help coach or Therapist to help individuals identify unhelpful ways of thinking and learn new ways of coping if they have been feeling low, stressed or anxious. To find out more about the service call 0800 328 9655.