Watch: Roman Kemp asks the public if they ever give honest answers when asked how they are
Roman Kemp has urged the nation to stop saying they’re ‘fine’ when they’re not in a bid to get people talking and boost wellbeing this Christmas.
“As someone who has been open about their own battle with mental health and seen first-hand the devastating consequences of people bottling up their feelings, this is a campaign very close to my heart,” says Kemp.
The TV and radio presenter, 29, – whose documentary last year Our Silent Emergency explored mental health and the suicide crisis affecting young men after losing his best friend – has teamed up with Walkers and Comic Relief to challenge the public to give up the f*** (fine) word this festive period and beyond.
“Christmas is an amazing time of year, but it’s also a very challenging time for a lot of people,” adds Kemp.
Read more: Talking mental health: What to say when someone’s struggling, according to experts
Two-thirds of adults will tell their friends and family they’re ‘fine’ over the Christmas period, even when they’re not (sound familiar?), according to research commissioned by Walkers to shine a light on the benefits of opening up and talking more.
This is despite the fact that 34% of us are less likely to feel ok during the festive season, more than any other time of year, while 51% believe others don’t want to hear about their troubles as it dampens the mood.
Unfortunately this means in a scenario where friends or family might ask how we are over Christmas dinner, 47% of us would keep the conversation light-hearted, believing it isn’t the ‘right’ time to discuss heavy issues.
Plus, some 52% feel additional pressure to ‘be happy’ during the festive period and pretend everything is ok (or ‘fine’), the study of 2,000 people also found.
‘Fine’ in this context is described by Urban Dictionary as: ‘A word to use when you’re depressed but you don’t want to worry another person. You end up worrying them anyway, though.’ If you feel low or depressed, you may feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in the things you used to enjoy, experiencing mental, physical and social symptoms.
“Let’s stop saying we’re fine because we think it’s polite, or because we think it’s what the other person wants to hear,” adds Kemp. “Most of the time, if a friend or family member is asking you how you are, they do genuinely want to know because they care.”
Read more: Men and depression: How to spot the signs and address it
The study also found that as a nation we collectively declare we’re ‘fine’ 213 million times everyday, with the average person saying it as much as four times during a 24-hour period.
However, perhaps relatable to many, 87% confess to saying they’re ‘fine’ on autopilot, without stopping to think about how they actually feel.
As part of the campaign, Kemp took to the streets of London to ask the public if they ever give honest answers when asked ‘how are you?’. Many admitted they too are guilty of the instant ‘I’m fine’ response, with reasons ranging from ‘not wanting to bring other people down with you’, ‘not knowing how people are going to deal with your emotions’, and ‘being afraid of feeling uncomfortable’.
The research carried out via OnePoll also revealed the top barrier to giving open and honest answers was that ‘it’s easier than explaining why you’re not fine’, along with not wanting to go into detail about how they’re feeling. Meanwhile, money worries and the heavy current news agenda were cited as things most likely to get people down.
While 26% don’t think others really want to know how they are when asked, 48% said they genuinely do.
“We know Christmas can be a challenging time for many, and the pressure to appear positive and pretend everything is ‘fine’, even if it’s not, is particularly strong at this time of year,” says Philippa Pennington, from Walkers, which has donated £2 million to Comic Relief for mental wellbeing projects.
“The message of our Christmas campaign – that it can help to open up and talk about your feelings – is so important and we hope to be able to encourage people to talk a little more this festive season.”
Samir Patel, CEO of Comic Relief, adds, “We believe humour can be great way to help start conversations that can sometimes be difficult to have, especially about how we are really feeling.
“So, this Christmas, together with Walkers, we hope we can help get the nation talking more and looking after their mental wellbeing.”
If you are feeling down, you’re not alone, and there is help out there. Try talking about your feelings to a friend, family member, health professional or counsellor.
Read more: The most common mental health conditions – and where to get help
For more information on the different types of depression see the NHS website. See a GP if you experience symptoms for most of the day, every day, for more than two weeks. You can also find information on other mental health conditions, like generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) via the NHS, as well as how to access mental health services.
You can call Mind’s infoline on 0300 123 3393 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday (except for bank holidays), or email [email protected], to ask about mental health problems, where to get help near you, treatment options, advocacy services and more.
You can also call Samaritans any time, day or night on 116 123 or email [email protected] for a response within 24 hours.
If it’s an emergency and you or someone else is in danger call 999 or go to A&E, or if you need urgent help but it’s not an emergency call get help from NHS 111 online or call 111.
Additional reporting SWNS.