With busy lives, how often is it that you stop for a chat with a stranger?
But as well as being busier, many of us are more lonely these days, too. And feeling lonely or isolated is one of the worst things for your mental health. Which is why a new initiative in Newton-le-Willows is hoping to get people talking and improve our sense of wellbeing.
That’s where the Happy to Talk bench comes in!
Take a seat on one of the ‘Happy to Talk’ benches that have been installed in Mesnes Park, Sankey Valley and other locations across the borough. It’s a sign that you’re approachable and open to a friendly chat – in fact, it’s the perfect conversation starter!
The benches have been installed by St Helens Wellbeing, and there are 25 of them in total across St Helens.
Cllr Anthony Burns, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “We all know that connecting to nature and getting some exercise, no matter how gentle it is, is a simple way that we can improve our mental wellbeing.
“That is why these benches have been located in popular parks and green spaces across the borough where we know people go to walk and take time out from their day.
“These simple acts of self-care can help reduce the stresses we all face day-to-day and incorporating the opportunity to open up and talk about how we feel.”
The benches are just one of the many ways that St Helens Borough Council and its partners are providing mental health support for residents.
Let’s talk about how we’re feeling
Councillor Michelle Sweeney, Lead Member for Mental Health, added: “It’s vital that we break down the stigma of talking about our mental health and these benches will help us to find the opportunity to talk to others about how we are feeling. These small steps can really add up and although we talk about having the difficult conversations around suicide when we feel people are struggling through our Okay To Ask campaign it’s much better to regularly talk about how we feel as a healthy way to deal with our emotions.”
There are more details about St Helens Wellbeing Services, a list of locations of the Happy to Talk benches and links to other support on their website. You can also call 01744 377111.
If anyone needs urgent support please contact The Samaritans on 116 123 or the free Mersey Care 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Line on 0800 051 1508.
Mental health tips for Winter
We asked local hypnotherapist, Chris Skoyles, for his top tips to improve our wellbeing and mental health during the winter, when the seasonal blues can hit some of us hard.
His advice is easy to follow – and could just make a big difference to your mood.