Mental connection Richard J. Read  

Little conversation helped UK public through tough year, study finds

Latest data reveals UK public relies heavily on gossip, recognizing the importance of human relationships since the pandemic restricted our social interactions

Britons are often notorious for being reserved and channeling a ‘stiff upper lip’, but a new study from YouGov suggests the pandemic has encouraged us to challenge that stereotype, channeling small talks to make connections with strangers, in the face of adversity.

The latest data shows that one in three quarters of UK adults (78%) have used small talk during the pandemic, and many plan to continue using this tool to connect, as nearly one in five (19%) is more likely to want to chat with a stranger face-to-face once restrictions are lifted.

The pandemic has demonstrated the benefits of human contact, as just over half (51%) of those who are more likely to want to chat, said it was because they now recognize the importance of human relationships, over 39% said they appreciated the sense of community brought on by COVID-19.

At the height of the pandemic, 37% of those surveyed said they chatted with neighbors and strangers in the supermarket, with the weather still the go-to topic to strike up a conversation (71%) despite adverse events in 2020, such as COVID -19 takes second place (45%).

The survey also looked at the benefits that small conversations can have. As loneliness rates skyrocketed during the pandemic, the latest data shows that small conversations can help people feel less alone (57%), improve their mental health (45%), and care for others (28 %).

The discoveries come as the Samaritans Small Talk saves lives is launching a new phase of its month-long campaign, an initiative to empower the public to take action to help prevent suicide on railways and other public places.

In partnership with Network Rail, the British Transport Police and the wider rail industry, the awareness campaign aims to remind the public that they already have the skills to start a conversation and give them the confidence to do so. . By tapping into our little conversations, we could potentially save a life.

Dom Mottram of Network Rail experienced the power of conversation when at 19 he had suicidal thoughts which were interrupted by a lady who asked him if he was okay.

“I’m grateful for the ripple effect of this lady who saved my life – without her stopping and checking to see if I was okay, I might not be there to watch and save them. others, ”Dom said.

“I’m always on the lookout for anyone who might need help. If I see someone looking out of place or looking a little down, I will often ask them if they are okay and try to get them to a safe place. Nine times out of ten the person is absolutely fine, but trusting my gut and talking to that person can make such a difference.

Samaritans share that by trusting our instincts, a simple question or joke can be enough to interrupt the thoughts of someone considering suicide. You can try “Hello, what time is it please?” Or “The weather is nice today”.

“It’s so important that we take care of each other now more than ever, because suicide is preventable and everyone’s business,” said Julie Bentley, CEO of Samaritans.

“The way people act when they have difficulty coping is different for everyone – people may seem distant or upset, but suicidal thoughts are often temporary – so if something is wrong, trust your gut feeling and try to strike up a conversation. “

Let’s start a conversation and work together to prevent suicide.

Small Talk saves lives is now in its fifth year, having been launched in response to research which found that rail passengers have a key role to play in suicide prevention. New research by Associate Professor Lisa Marzano of Middlesex University is leading this latest phase of the campaign after data revealed that people with suicidal thoughts said verbal interventions, including small ones discussions, reassurance and listening, are the most helpful things a person can do to respond to someone in crisis.

Crisis support

If you are having difficulty, know that help and support is available now.

If you need to speak to someone immediately, Samaritans offers a free listening service 24/7, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 or email [email protected]

If you are in immediate danger of hurting yourself or others, or finding yourself in a crisis, call 999 or go to A&E.

If you want to connect with a professional in a secure and confidential space to share your concerns, use the search below to find an advisor in your area or offer support online.

The pandemic has created unimaginable stress and anxiety and put a lot of people to the test, so it’s important to know that you are not alone in this situation, and we are here with you.

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