Residents encouraged to chat more for mental health this November

People in Oxfordshire are being encouraged to open up and have a chat with friends, colleagues, family members or even a total stranger, every day throughout November to help tackle the issue of loneliness and social isolation.

The #30chatsin30days campaign, organised by the Oxfordshire Men’s Health Partnership, a local network, which includes Oxfordshire County Council’s public health team, seeks to raise awareness of the impacts that social isolation can have on someone’s health.

The idea was conceived by Oxford-based Emma Garrety, who works and volunteers with organisations working with and supporting men, including veterans’ charities.

Inspiration for the campaign came to Emma when she recalled a visit from a male friend who knocked at her door following the sudden and traumatic death of his father.

Emma explained: “Faced with the grief and profound upset of my friend, I found it difficult to know how to start a conversation. I found it difficult to find the right words to support my friend. Despite initial hesitation, I managed to help by simply being there and then offering practical support by driving him home to his grieving family.

“This deeply moving experience inspired me to think, how might we all better respond to another person’s upset? How might we be able to have better conversations with those, especially men, facing a tough time?

“I thought to myself, surely it shouldn’t take a crisis to start these important conversations and that’s when I decided to pledge to have at least one meaningful conversation with someone every day in November..”

Councillor Dr Nathan Ley, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Inequalities and Community Safety, said: “Social isolation and loneliness is known to have a detrimental effect on both our physical and mental wellbeing.

“I know how difficult it can be for some people to open up and talk, especially about sensitive subjects, such as how you’re feeling – particularly for men. I hope that this campaign will inspire more people to start opening up and talking more.”

Given the focus on men’s health and wellbeing, the partnership is also promoting the more light-hearted hashtag #30chapsin30days to encourage more conversations with men.

Councillor Mark Lygo, Oxfordshire County Council’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Champion, said: “This November I am pledging to have a meaningful conversation on each of the 30 days of November as part of the Oxfordshire Men’s Health Partnership’s #30chatsin30days campaign.

“Sadly loneliness and isolation impact many of us and the #30chatsin30days campaign seeks to help address this issue and brighten someone’s days, including our own.

“We all know that ‘it’s good to talk’, so let’s make those connections count this November. Why not join me and make your pledge today?”

There are also several opportunities to connect for those living in Carterton. Evening events will take place at Lynwood & Co Café in Carterton (5.30pm -  7.30pm) on Thursday 2 November and Thursday 23 November.

There will also be activities and free oral cancer screening at Carterton Leisure Centre (Broadshires Way, Carterton, OX18 1AA) from 10am – 4pm on Thursday 21 November 2023.

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