The number of us taking the time to sit and chat with someone close is dwindling, according to new research from the mental health anti-stigma programme Time to Change, which shows that two thirds of people (66%) admit they should talk to family and friends more often than they currently do.

The findings are released today – on the first ever national Time to Talk Day (6 February) which aims to spark one million conversations about mental health.

Exploring how often we’re having conversations, the poll reveals only just over a third (37%) of people ask our family and friends “how they are” on a daily basis, and over a quarter (26%) believe they speak to their neighbours less than once a month. However, when people do get round to having their conversation, nearly three in four people (73%) prefer it face-to-face compared to by phone (8%) or email (8%).

Time to Change, which is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, is asking people up and down the country to have a conversation on Time to Talk Day to help get mental health more openly discussed in order to remove the stigma. This could be as simple as asking someone how they are, sending a quick text or having a conversation over a cuppa.

More than 600 activities are taking place. Employers such as The Professional Cricketers AssociationTelefonicaComic Relief, AXA PPP Healthcare and Lloyds General will be helping to reach the one million conversations target. The day will also be supported by celebrities including Corrie’s Beverley Callard, comedian Russell Kane, Dancing on Ice judge Ashley Roberts and TV presenter Anna Williamson, who have each donated a conversation. People taking part in Time to Talk Day could be in with a chance of winning some time with their favourite celebrity.

There are hundreds of other unique events taking place across the nation including, a specially named horse race at Taunton Racecourse – The Mental Health Challenge – as well as information and advice being offered to all race goers by the Somerset Time to Change group.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • In terms of awkward conversations, sex (35%), money (25%), religion (17%), relationships (16%), and mental health (16%) ranked the highest from a list of subjects that people feel the most uncomfortable talking about.
  • Over 55s are the least uncomfortable talking about a variety of topics, whereas just under one in five young people aged 18-24 (19%) feel awkward talking mental and physical health.

Time to Change Director Sue Baker said: “Today we are asking the nation to have a conversation about mental health. Talking more openly about mental health is a really powerful way of breaking down the stigma and discrimination that one in four of us with a mental health problem have to face. Previous research has shown that people can feel uncomfortable talking about mental illness but when they do talk it’s often much easier than they expected.

“In recent years we’ve started to see a shift in public attitudes but we still have a long way to go until mental health becomes an ordinary and everyday topic – and one that we respond to in the same way as common physical health issues like cancer, diabetes or asthma.”

Time to Talk Day is part of the latest campaign from Time to Change – It’s time to talk, which highlights the little things that make a big difference to someone going through a mental health problem, like sending a text, having a chat over a cup of tea, or giving them a call.

For more information on getting involved in Time to Talk Day and for tips, tools and conversation starters go to or tweet #TimetoTalk to find out more.