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'Almost 1 in 3 people' in East Anglia would avoid 'awkward' mental health chat

45% of all Childline counselling sessions are related to emotional health, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

The mental health group Time to Change claims nearly a third of residents in our region are too afraid to speak to a friend struggling with their mental health.

The new figures were published on the organisation's annual Time to Talk day, with people across East Anglia being encouraged to get the conversation started.

The Time to Change study suggests almost one in three would avoid the "awkward conversation" about the psychological challenges faced by their friends.

The World Health Organisation says 25% of people battle with mental health issues and Jo Loughran, the Director of Time to Change, said: “Having a conversation about mental health could change someone’s life.

"It’s vital that we don’t avoid or delay these important conversations because of our own worries.

"You don’t need to have all the answers; if someone close to you is struggling, just being there will mean a lot."

According to the Campaign Against Living Miserably, suicide is currently the biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK.

We spoke to Steve Masters, the Chair of Trustees at a mental health charity: "Men particularly have not been encouraged to open-up about their mental health, may be as much be they should.

"One of the things that's striking about (our work) is that once you get men in a safe environment, they are more willing to open-up."

Steve Masters told us it is vital that parents tackle mental health head-on with their children.

The damning statistics are prevalent across all generations.

The Samaritans - another mental health charity - say suicide deaths among under 25s rose by almost a quarter in 2018.

Matthew Poll - a psychologist at Talking Therapies, a NHS mental health service - told us about the signals people can look for with family members who could be suffering: "Any obvious changes in behaviour, withdrawal in some way, shape or form - it could that people stop talking.

"Perhaps they just become more and more withdrawn. That could be due to avoidance because of anxiety issues, or it could be because of a lack of motivation and depression issues."

Matthew Poll says the long-established mental health taboo is slowly deteriorating.

Whilst it is without doubt that the subject has taken more prominence across British society in recent years, the fact remains that we still have much progress to make.

In 2018, deaths attributed to suicide increased by more than 10% across the UK.

Anyone in need of support can call The Samaritans - any time, any day - on 116 123.

Michele Baxter - who answers the phone for NSPCC's Childline as a volunteer - told us the winter season can impact young people.

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