TIME TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH

New film by tidal Thames safety partner encourages everyone to open up #SaferThames

Simply talking can be a lifeline for people experiencing a mental health problem.

That’s the message of a new Port of London Authority (PLA) film produced to mark Time to Talk day (4 February), which aims to get the nation discussing mental health, particularly in the ongoing pandemic.

The film, made in partnership with other members of the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum (TTWSF), along with Maritime UK, is hosted by star of stage and screen, Gary Wilmot MBE.

He interviews Mental Health UK ambassador Neil Laybourn, who helped Prince William launch the TTWSF in 2019, with a moving account of how he intervened to stop a stranger from taking his own life on the river.

Neil said: “Mental health is still so misunderstood by millions of people. If we take time to listen to each other’s stories, we can all learn how to approach the issue more effectively.”

In the film, Inspector Stuart Simpson, who represents The Metropolitan Police on the TTWSF, explains that a mental health nurse is now deployed on the river.

Other contributors include Stuart Pollard and Danielle Spencer from the PLA health, safety and wellbeing team, explaining about how mental health issues have personally affected them and their families, along with Robin Mortimer, the PLA’s chief executive.

Robin Mortimer, who is vice chair of Maritime UK, said “Now more than ever, with COVID-19 putting such extra strain on all of us, it’s important that everyone experiencing mental health issues has someone to talk to.

“We need to normalise speaking about the topic and remember to regularly check up on our colleagues, family and friends.”

Stuart Pollard, PLA head of health, safety and wellbeing, added: “We must all work to end the stigma associated with mental health. It’s time to break the silence and talk.”