Nine out of ten people who responded to a YouGov survey commissioned for Samaritans believe having a cuppa and a chat with someone who may be lonely is a good way of reaching out to them.
Eight out of ten believe getting together for a tea and a talk makes them feel better, and seven out of 10 people aged between 18-24 said they would like more time to sit and chat. Eight out of ten students in full-time education believed people should talk over a drink more often during the day.*
Comedian Ross Noble likes a lemon and honey, rather than the more traditional leaf or teabag. He said: "Even if a cuppa tea is not for you, Brew Monday is a reminder to find time in your day to have a chinwag with you family or your mates".
Audley Harrison MBE
Olympic champion boxer Audley Harrison MBE says keeping a sense of perspective is key when times are tough. “Having a bad day is like bad weather, you need to keep it in perspective, stand strong in the storm, and realise it will pass. Don’t make any BIG decisions when you’re in that place. Reaching out and finding someone to talk to, someone who is non-judgmental and who will listen, may help you switch your mindset to a different path.”
Audley has a distinct tea ritual: “You need a big cup, one sugar, and you should leave the bag in for five minutes. And a biscuit to dunk too, that’s essential.”
Years & Years singer-songwriter and activist Olly Alexander likes a traditional tea and one sugar, and is happy going solo. “Drinking tea is a moment to take for yourself, a moment of calm and I do think it is best enjoyed with friends and family.
“I think quite a lot of people are scared of talking about their feelings and emotions, once you have taken that first step, people are surprised at how much it can help."
Libertines musician Carl Barât is a fan of loose leaf tea, which he believes makes a better brew, and he’s a fan of quantity too. “I drink more tea than anyone I know. It's my oldest ally,” he said.
Brew Monday is a way to connect with others and offer support – or get it: “As much as mental health is being slowly destigmatised, there is still a long way to go. People are scared to admit they have problems to others, sometimes even to themselves. There is much work to be done before people can feel comfortable dealing with mental health issues without stigma. Long live Samaritans!”
“Don’t make chicken soup, make a proper brew,” says comedian Maisie Adam. “My nan taught me a rhyme: “Don’t let your brew mash for too long, otherwise it will be way too strong – but too much milk and it’s like chicken soup, and that’s just bloody wrong!”
“Having a chat over a brew with your friend can go a long way for your mental health,” Maisie adds. “These discussions and conversations need to be encouraged, without stigma, and this campaign champions just that.”
A good strong cup of tea is important to TV and radio broadcaster Yasmin Evans. “I’m a Northerner and we drink a lot of tea. If you don’t have teabags in your kitchen, there’s something wrong with you.
“Having a cup of tea, and sitting across the table from someone, you just put all your walls down and get a little bit comfortable, you have a conversation and a chat,” says Yasmin. What is comforting is, you know that the conversation is going to last as long as that little mug, so there’s no pressure. You don’t have to stay longer than the brew.
Cooking helps Yasmin stay on track on a down day. “When I go into the kitchen, I cook myself a three-course meal, set up the table, and I light a candle, I have my coasters out and it makes me feel good. I love to cook.”
Poet and mental health campaigner Hussain Manawer likes a peppermint tea, but he doesn’t want people to think he’s “bouji” for choosing it. And he respects the people who make a round of teas.
“A cup of tea is relaxing, it’s catching up, it’s destressing, it’s getting up in the morning, it’s cultural heritage.
“We have made some progress towards being a less judgmental and a kinder society,” Hussain said. “There are more empathic people around than when I was growing up.” He finds getting up early, getting out and doing something really helps him, as well as doing a lot of writing.
It’s coffee that does it for comedian Bec Hill but she is firmly behind the talking element of the Brew Monday campaign.
“It’s important that mental health is being discussed more as time goes on, and hopefully one day campaigns like this won’t be necessary, but that will be because campaigns like this happened. It’s a great cause, letting people who otherwise feel that they are not being listened to, know that we want to listen to them.
“I have been lucky enough to work in an area where everyone is quite used to hearing about people’s difficulties with mental health issues but I have seen elements of society where it is an issue that still needs to be discussed.”
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* YouGov survey of 2073 UK adults, carried out for Samaritans between 25-26 October 2017. Data was weighted to be representative of all UK adults.
Blue Monday is the name often given to the third Monday in January, dubbed the most difficult day of the year, with dark days, cold weather, broken resolutions, credit card bills to pay, and no holidays to look forward to.
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