Jonny Benjamin: “Mental Health is Still a Taboo in the LGBT Community – We need to change that”

One in four of us will face mental health issues in our life. But the statistics are worryingly more acute for students. A recent study by the National Union of Students produced for parliament showed 4 in 5 students faced mental health issues in the last year.

Jonny Benjamin
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On top of the pressures any student faces – imagine also being LGBT. Another report by the NUS’s LGBT arm in 2014 showed that 1 in 5 students face homophobia, and 1 in 3 face transphobia.

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Jonny Benjamin, was going to take his life before a ‘“stranger on a bridge” stopped him. Speaking ahead of Student Pride, he said “Struggling with my sexuality was one of the factors that led me to nearly jumping from a bridge when I was 20. Luckily I was talked out of what I was about to do but there are countless others who aren’t”

Whether it’s Jonny’s account, Olly Alexander talking so openly about his mental health in Attitude Magazine and Dan Beeson’s account on Gay Star News – National Student Pride have opened up their event to talk about the issues of mental health – because every account shows we’ve heard shows how talking, makes all the difference.

Jonny Benjamin: “Events like this are so important. It sends a message out that we’re serious about addressing this. We can change the numbers. People within the LGBT community don’t have to struggle silently alone, get to the point of crisis or sadly take their own lives. It is our role as human beings and members of the LGBT community to help and support other members of the LGBT family, and send them that vital message- It Gets Better.”

When 48% of trans people in the UK under 26 have attempted suicide because of discrimination they suffer and mental health charity Re-Think statistics show gay and bisexual men are four times more likely to commit suicide than the rest of the population – it’s time to stand together on this one.

Speaking about the vital, but difficult topic at National Student Pride on February 6th at the University of Westminster’s Marylebone campus, opposite Baker Street, are:

  • Matthew Todd – Attitude Magazine Editor (Chair)
  • Jonny Benjamin – Mental Health Activist and documentary maker
  • Taz-Edwards White – LGBT Adult Mental Health & Wellbeing Coordinator At Metro
  • Bisi Alimi – Nigerian LGBT Activist
  • Munroe Bergdorf – Trans DJ

Taz-Edwards White said “It is really important to look after yourself, especially your mental health, I look forward to exploring this at the Festival’s Mental Health Debate.” With the Metro CEO Dr Greg Ussher adding:

“based on a 7,000 strong survey of young people – we know that LGBTQ+ young people are disproportionately affected by mental health issues – 42% of LGBTQ respondents reported going for medical help for depression or anxiety, compared to 29% of heterosexual non-trans respondents.

“The reasons for this are complex, but factors include: bullying and lack of support in our schools – 65% of LGBTQ+ young people think their school supported its pupils badly in respect of sexuality or gender identity; lack of stability – nearly one in ten LGBTQ+ young people reported they have to leave home for reasons relating to their sexuality or gender identity.”

Hatti Smart, Student Pride co-chair said:

“This year, National Student Pride will be placing a real emphasis on mental health, that affect LGBT youth disproportionately to their peers. It’s time we stood together as a community on this and just as we broke down the prejudice on being gay, bi and trans – start the conversation on taking the taboo out of mental health”

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