An ambassador for a local mental health charity has given tips for people concerned about others to follow in light of Time to Talk Day, which takes place on Friday, February 4.

Ponteland resident Gordon Allan, an ambassador for the Tyneside and Northumberland Mind service, has described the ways in which you can both notice and also support someone who you believe may not be feeling themselves.

“When trying to talk to someone you feel could be in danger, one of the most important factors is ensuring that they feel as safe and secure as possible,” said Gordon.

“It’s extremely important to emphasize with the person you’re talking to and not just give sympathy and don’t really listen to what they need to say.

“Being supportive of the person your talking to is essential to show that you care about them. You don’t know for sure how they’re feeling inside.”

Time to Talk Day is a national campaign that’s been designed to change the way people think about mental health and help show that the smallest conversation could have a positive impact.

This message was echoed by Gordon, who added that talking is the first step to helping someone who may be struggling.

“Even if you get a response from the person you’re talking to, chances are you know them already and you may be able to notice if they don’t seem themselves,” he added.

“So if you think something isn’t quite right, ask an open question and see how they respond. Always show that you’re there for them and willing to listen to what they have to say.

“A lot of people’s default assumption is that phoning someone is the best way of trying to help, but it’s always down to the particular person and that certain case.

“You have to remember also that the person you’re talking to should be the one in control of what they’re talking about.

“Nobody knows exactly the direction where the conversation heads once you start, so it’s a case of seeing where it goes and ensuring they feel as safe as possible throughout.”

As well as being a ambassador for Mind, Gordon is also a member of the mental health and suicide prevention network and he also commented on how you can speak to someone who is struggling mentally.

“Although face to face is often the best way, again it comes back to this suggestion that it’s up to the person involved about how they should be contacted,” he explained.

“Some people may prefer text messaging and phone calls, and it’s whatever makes them makes them feel the most secure that’s most important.

“I’d recommend the NHS Every Mind Matters website if you’re needing more information. It’s recently had a revamp and is one of the best mental health support sits currently available.

“If you’re really concerned about someone, then the Zero Suicide Alliance, which is ran in partnership with the North East and North Cumbria Support Network is available.”

Time to Talk Day 2021 takes place on Friday, February 4.