Time to Change: Two thirds of people feel they have no one to talk to about personal problems such as mental health

09 October 2023

New figures, released on Time to Talk Day (1 February), reveal two thirds (66%)[1] of people in the UK feel they have no one to talk to when it comes to personal conversations on topics such as mental health, money problems and relationships. When asked why, the top reasons were: never being able to find the right time, or the right place.

Time to Change commissioned the independent survey of over 2,500 UK adults to mark Time to Talk Day, a nation-wide push to get people talking more openly about mental health. The data reveals that many people are missing out on support from those around them, simply because they cannot find the ‘perfect’ time and place to open up.This year marks the fifth Time to Talk Day and the theme is Right Time, Any Place providing everyone with the perfect chance to be more open about mental health – whatever they are doing on the day.

The day will kick off at the aptly dubbed ‘Walkie Talkie’ building, one of the tallest, iconic buildings in London where Time to Change champions will start conversations with members of the public, showing that conversations about mental health can happen anywhere. Further conversations will take place in the Sky Garden, where Time to Change champions will be stationed. Stephen Fry, Fearne Cotton, Frankie Bridge, Nicholas Pinnock and Sean Fletcher have also joined thousands of individuals and organisations to back the campaign by having conversations in the most unlikely locations, from the middle of a cinema to the top of a mountain.

Time to Talk Day was established by Time to Change, the campaign to change how we all think and act about mental health problems, led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. The day was created in recognition of the fact that people talking and sharing their experiences changes the attitudes of those around them. This year will be the first time the event is UK-wide as Time to Change partners with See Me Scotland, Change Your Mind Northern Ireland and Time to Change Wales. The message will also go global with support from campaigns as far as the USA and Hong Kong.

Millions of conversations are expected to take place this Time to Talk Day. Over 2,500 workplaces will be hosting their own activities including Virgin Trains and Highways England. PG tips will also help facilitate chats over a cup of tea through its donation of thousands of tea bags made available as part of a ‘chatter box’ full of resources for supporters. In addition 1,300 people in the community– such as lollipop people, mountain rescue groups, gardeners, runners and librarians and 800 schools will take part.

Carl Anka experiences depression and finds the time and place to speak to his friends about mental health through gaming. “I find it interesting that people speak about the importance of talking one to one, or on the phone. I find it much easier to speak via text, or email – or when I’m playing a game. I’m part of a group of people who play the game Overwatch – we call it Broverwatch. Our group chat started off with the usual but then one day moved on to mental health and speaking about what’s really going on in our lives. There’s something about being distracted that helps you to be more open. Another friend bought me a copy of FIFA, just so that we could log on together and chat – it’s two thirds about the game and one third – are you sleeping ok? How are you feeling at the moment?”

Katie Conibear has bipolar disorder and worried about finding the right time and place to speak to her boyfriend about her experience of hearing voices “I could never find the right time to tell anyone because I thought I might spoil the moment and bring people down. I eventually told my boyfriend over dinner. The whole time I'd been cooking I was playing the conversation out in my head and fearing the worst. When I eventually found the courage to speak up, he was supportive and understanding. This gave me the courage to tell family and friends.”

Sue Baker OBE, Director of Time to Change, said: “People still think there is no right time or place to talk about mental health – that it’s something that should be whispered about in quiet corners. We all need to work hard to change and remove the barriers to talking. Conversations have the power to change lives, wherever they take place. So whether you’re at home, at work, in the cinema, or even in the car, Time to Talk Day is the perfect chance to be more open about mental health.”

Join in the conversation online using the hashtag #timetotalk

For information and to get involved in Time to Talk Day visit: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day-2018

- Ends -

Notes to the editor

Interviews with spokespeople and case studies

Interviews with Time to Change spokesperson Sue Baker are available on request. Case studies of people with experience of mental health problems are also available.

Regional figures available on request

Images of Stephen Fry, Fearne Cotton, Nicholas Pinnock, Sean Fletcher and Time to Change Champions having their conversations can be downloaded here: https://we.tl/ZW0WcnG8Ro

Polling methodology

The research was conducted by Censuswide, who surveyed 2,671 adults aged 16+ in the UK. The sample included 195 adults in Northern Ireland, 108 in Wales, 158 in Scotland, 130 in West Sussex, 149 in Cumbria, 133 in Suffolk, and 118 in Leeds; the remaining sample was nationally representative. The research was conducted from 03.01.2018 to 08.01.2018.  Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles. 

Time to Change

Time to Change is a campaign to change how we all think and act about mental health problems, led by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It is funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Set up to create a positive shift in public attitudes towards mental health problems, Time to Change supports communities, schools and workplaces to open up to mental health problems; to talk and to listen.

For more information go to www.time-to-change.org.uk.


[1] Research was conducted by Censuswide, who surveyed 2,671 adults aged 16+ in the UK.