Changing the conversation on mental health
This Mental Health Month we stand in solidarity with everyone who experiences mental health issues. In this story, Louisa Sampson, director of social enterprise at Filtered Media introduces you to two people who discovered the power of a conversation to save a life.

Is there someone you might reach out to and ask how they are really doing? Be a friend, be brave and be open about mental health today. It could save a life.

Six years after a man sat on the edge of a bridge in Central London contemplating taking his life, he was reunited with the stranger who talked him to safety with the promise: “It’ll get better mate, you will get better”.

The man about to attempt suicide was Jonny Benjamin and the man who saved his life by asking him on a coffee date was Neil Laybourn. They were reunited after Jonny launched ‘Find Mike,’ a campaign which became a massive social media effort to find the man who helped him.

I had the absolute pleasure of working with these two inspiring men as part of my work for Their Royal Highnesses’ Heads Together campaign in 2017 which aimed to help tackle the stigma around mental health by changing the conversation.  

Together, Jonny and Neil highlight the power of a conversation. Neil deciding to reach out to Jonny that day gave him hope, and ultimately saved his life. Making sure people feel comfortable to speak up when they’re struggling is so important. Ensuring we all feel able to start such a conversation, as well as knowing how to help someone when they do share their troubles, is equally as important.

Jonny and Neil were just two of many people who bravely opened up and shared their story to inspire and encourage others that ‘it is OK not to be OK’ and show that ‘two heads are better than one when dealing with a mental health problem’. All of those who supported the campaign paved the way for so many others, in Britain, but also across the world to start their own conversations about mental health.

Real life stories really resonate. We learn from others that opening up and sharing can be a positive experience and bring solace and support rather than stigma or shame.

Being openly supportive of having conversations around mental health is why Filtered Media got actively involved with ‘Odd Socks Dayand ‘Mental Health Month’. On October 5th, we all wore mismatched socks to the office as symbolic acknowledgement anyone can have an odd day, and brought snacks to share made of oddly matched ingredients — the chocolate-covered bacon contribution by Ashley Boyd was a definite highlight!

Our team embraced these 6 simple ways the Odd Socks Day organisers suggest we can all start making a difference — we’d love to hear your thoughts and tips (share with us via Filtered Media on Facebook):

  • Be a friend – be there, for the ordinary and extraordinary moments
  • Be brave – don’t tolerate stigma and discrimination
  • Be open – share your experiences
  • Be informed – know the truths and dispel the myths
  • Be good to yourself – recognise the need to look after your own mental wellbeing
  • Be an exampleSign the No More Stigma pledge

If you are struggling with mental health issues and need crisis support, call 13 11 14 now.

13 11 14 is a confidential telephone crisis support service run by Lifeline available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile. If someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 000.

Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can contact Lifeline. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation they have trained volunteers ready to listen, provide support and referrals.

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