Starting on World Mental Health Day (10 October), YMCA is urging everyone to break the silence over mental health by initiating small but meaningful conversations with friends, colleagues and even strangers as part of their Small Talks, Big Difference initiative.

Everyone struggles at times with their mental health, especially over the past 18 months, and yet speaking openly about it can still feel like an extremely daunting prospect. To help make this a little easier, YMCA is asking people to take 15 minutes of their day this October for Tea Talks, and have devised a simple TALK plan to kick things off:

Take the time to engage and check in with those around you; Ask twice about how they are feeling to break through the common ‘I’m fine’ response; Learn to listen by being patient and don’t cut people off; and Keep it up – don’t stop after one chat, keep checking in with each other.

As part of their TALK plan, packages will be available for Tea Talks in local YMCAs across England and Wales, including tea bags and key cards with questions and tips for initiating and progressing positive small talks to help tackle the big issue of mental health.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales said:

“Mental health means different things to different people, but a resounding and uniting element is the need for support, openness, and continued work to remove the stigma from one of the most debilitating illnesses affecting so many people right now.

“The most recent statistics from NHS Digital revealed that one-in-five 17-to-22-year-olds are now identified as having a probable mental health disorder, with rates for those aged between 17 and 19 rising significantly from 10.1% in 2017 to 17.4% in 2021.

“Inciting and continuing the conversation around mental health has never been more important, and Small Talks is all about breaking down barriers and breaking the silence in order to do just that. In taking the time to have these conversations and ensure that we all make ourselves available to listen, everyone can have a positive impact on the mental health of those around them.

“Through their Tea Talks and TALK guide, YMCA is encouraging people to check in regularly, creating a vital support network of people to help lighten the load, not just on World Mental Health Day, but all year round.”

YMCAs connect almost 72,000 young people with someone to talk to or a helping hand, offering specialist guidance and practical skills to best equip them to overcome whatever challenges they may face.

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For more information or interview requests, please contact Aimee Reilly in the YMCA England & Wales press office at / 078636 20084.


Notes to Editors


YMCA England & Wales

  • YMCA England & Wales is made up of 101 member YMCAs working to ensure young people have opportunities to thrive and contribute positively to their communities.
  • YMCAs operate in 700 different communities across England and Wales, impacting upon the lives of more than 570,000 people every year.
  • YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of supported housing for young people in England and Wales, providing a bed for 8,800 people each night and collectively helping more than 20,000 people experiencing homelessness each year.
  • YMCAs provide a safe space for 41,960 young people through our extensive youth services work, welcoming almost 20,000 young people through our 79 youth centres throughout England and Wales.
  • YMCA is the largest sector provider of nursery and childcare provision, working with 207,000 children, young people, parents and carers to provide the best possible start in life, offering support into teenage years and beyond.
  • YMCA England & Wales enables more than 28,000 people every year to engage in education and training to enable them to improve their opportunities in the job market.
  • YMCA is the largest voluntary sector provider of services promoting physical activity in England and Wales, helping more than 132,000 people of all abilities and experiences to look after their health and wellbeing through healthy living activities.
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