WHETHER they are sat at home on their own or at the top of a mountain, people across Somerset are being told that now is the ‘Time to Talk’ about mental health.

Thursday, February 1, saw events held around the county in conjunction with charity MIND to raise awareness of mental health, but even though the Time to Talk day has finished, support is still out there.

That is the message from mental health and social isolation support group, WATCH Project.

Chard WATCH CIC (Working All Together in Chard) held an open house event on Thursday with free activities, a lunch and a raffle.

The peer support group was set up by Julie Matthews in April 2007.

She said: “Mental health issues affect one in four people.

“There are still too many people who are suffering in silence and have become totally isolated leaving them without hope. Time to Talk is about breaking down the stigma of mental health.

“Part of the Chard WATCH ethos is that we help to break down those barriers. The group tackles social isolation in the heart of Chard.

“Our members are aged from 18 with no upper age limit. We meet one day a week from 11am until 4pm at Chard Rugby Club.”

Julie launched the project after experiencing mental health and social isolation problems of her own.

She added: “I personally know how difficult it is having barriers to my own progression because of the fear of what people think.

“Chard has deprived areas and from statistics we know there are many isolated people in Chard that have social anxiety and have lost sense of hope.

“Peer support helped me feel less isolated and I recommend it to people having mental health issues.

“Part of our ethos is to break down barriers and have meaningful conversations with people so there is more understanding.”

Somerset Time To Change also partnered up with Lloyds Bank to hold conversation workshops with the public, with staff receiving ‘champion’ training.

Sue Baker OBE, director of Time to Change, said: “It’s easy to think there’s no right place to talk about mental health. But the more we talk about it, the better life is for all of us and Time to Talk Day is a chance for everyone to open up – to talk, to listen, to change lives.”

For more information, visit watchproject.org.uk.