‘Time to talk’

Image: Still from the Port of London Authority film ‘Time to Talk’

‘Simply talking can be a lifeline for people experiencing a mental health problem’ – that’s the message of a new Port of London Authority film produced to mark ‘Time to Talk’ day (4 February), which aims to get the nation discussing mental health.

Made in partnership with Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum and Maritime UK, the film is hosted by actor and comedian Gary Wilmot MBE.

He interviews Mental Health UK ambassador Neil Laybourn, who helped Prince William launch the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum 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.”

Image: Still from the Port of London Authority film ‘Time to Talk’

In the film, Inspector Stuart Simpson, who represents the Metropolitan Police on the Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum, 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.

Tidal Thames Water Safety Forum’s drowning prevention strategy aims to reduce the estimated 700 incidents on the river each year, between Teddington and the sea, where lives are at risk of being lost either through attempted suicide or misadventure. Annually there are around 30 fatalities, the majority of which are linked to mental health issues.

Image: Gary Wilmot MBE in the Port of London Authority film ‘Time to Talk’

‘Covid is putting extra strain on all of us’ – Chair of Maritime UK

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.”

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