#FindMike’s Jonny Benjamin: UK’s current approach to mental health ‘diabolical’
The mental health activist tells PinkNews that the government needs to do more to help those with mental health problems in the UK.
Mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin has criticised the government’s current mental health legislation ahead of World Mental Health Day.
Benjamin started the FindMike campaign, which aims to raise awareness of suicide and provide a message of hope to anyone who may be struggling.
‘Mike’ was actually Neil, a man who had stopped him from jumping to his death from Waterloo Bridge in London some years earlier.
Then 20, Benjamin said at the time he had hit “rock bottom” after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, and sought to end his life.
He has since become an activist speaking out on mental health issues.
The vlogger has now hit out at the Conservative’s current treatment of those suffering mental health problems, saying the current services available are “diabolical”.
Speaking exclusively to PinkNews, he said: “I’ve yet to hear one positive story regarding the government’s current treatment of mental health patients.
“Nothing is being done to tackle the issue – its as if mental health patients are invisible.”
Suicide remains the most common cause of death in men under the age of 35 in the UK – ahead of cancer and car accidents – with men three times as likely as British women to die by suicide.
Benjamin said that this statistic is growing – and that gay men are sometimes at the most at risk.
“In this country, we often find it hard to talk about our emotions openly, especially as men,” he said.
“We’re often being told to keep it to ourselves, or just get on with it – its all part of the stiff upper lip, ‘man up’ mentality we have.”
A recent survey found that 24% of gay men admitted to trying to kill themselves, while 54% admitted to having suicidal thoughts.
A further 70% said low self-esteem was the main reason for their depression and suicidal thoughts.
Benjamin also drew attention to the shocking statistics regarding mental health patients who have been forced to return to work due to a change in government legislation.
“Nearly 90 people a month are dying after being declared fit for work,” he said.
“People are dying every single day, and nobody is doing anything about it.”
Statistics recently released by the Department for Work and Pensions revealed that during the period December 2011 and February 2014 2,380 people died after their claim for benefits ended because a work capability assessment (WCA) found they were found fit for work.
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As an ambassador for metal health charity Rethink Mental Illness, Benjamin is urging people to sign a petition that calls upon the leaders of all political parties to commit to an overhaul of the Work Capability Assessment.
“If you’d broken your leg, or had a virus, you’d get rushed to the hospital straight away,” he added.
“But those suffering from mental health problems are left to suffer, often alone, with nobody to talk.
“There may be less stigma than there once was, but we still have a very long way to go.”
World Mental Health Day takes place on Saturday October 10th.