Jonny Benjamin, the man who created the phenomenal #FindMike campaign, launches a new mental health workshop ThinkWell focused on educating the next generation in wellbeing and mental health.
Jonny’s search for ‘Mike’, the man who stopped him taking his own life on the same date in 2008 (14th January), reached millions of people around the globe and created one of the biggest mental health campaigns in history. Not only starting a debate around mental health and suicide but also working on breaking down the stigma surrounding it.
His aim is to empower and encourage young people to discuss and look after their mental wellbeing and simultaneously challenge the stereotypes and stigma associated with it. “Mental health is one of the last taboos in our society. I know first hand the prejudices and stereotypes that surround it. I’m determined to change this for younger people and get people talking about mental health. It’s something we all need to engage in” says Jonny, who’s experienced mental health problems since he was ten years old.
“I never had any mental health education at school. I didn’t even know what mental health was whilst growing up. If I had had a workshop such as ThinkWell come to my school I think I would have sought help sooner and felt able to talk about what was happening. Instead I suffered in silence, leading to an eventual breakdown after becoming psychotic and ultimately taking me to the point of wanting to end my life. I hope to try and stop other young people from going through what I did by ensuring every pupil has mental health education, just as they do physical education. I believe that it should be a compulsory part of the curriculum.”
Mental health workshops are safe & supportive
The workshop ThinkWell will be launched nationwide and delivers a dynamic 100-minute session delivered direct to young people by both a highly trained workshop leader and a qualified therapist. It has been designed to provide a safe and supportive environment to talk about mental health, demystify many of the stigmas – and silence – around this issue and, very importantly, provide information and signposting for young people.
The dynamic workshop uses exclusive film footage, from Jonny’s recent Channel 4 documentary The Stranger on the Bridge, as well as discussion and kinaesthetic activities to empower young people to talk about mental health and reach out for help if they need it.
“Just as our bodies can get ill or break, so can our minds. And just as we can get treatment to be become physically healthy again or learn to live well with physical difficulties so can we do the same with our mental health.
So why do we teach children how to look after themselves physically and when to ask for help if feeling unwell, but don’t do the same when it comes to their mental health and wellbeing?
Engaging children and young people in the debate
ThinkWell is a necessary project that should be available to all children and young people. As Jonny Benjamin shows, it is possible to return from significant mental health difficulties and live well. By sharing his story and engaging children and young people in the important debate around their and others’ mental health, Jonny and the Pixel Learning team are doing so much to empower and educate our upcoming generation and make the stigma and taboo of mental ill health a thing of the past.” Says Professor Tanya Byron, Clinical Psychologist specialising in working with children and adolescents.
Delivered in tailored packages for KS3, KS4 and KS5 the workshop creates a safe environment for young people to engage in the topic and breaks down the taboos surrounding it.
“We want ThinkWell to act as an early intervention- empowering young people to talk about mental health before they reach a point of a crisis. Encouraging young people to talk about their feelings is crucial in breaking down the stigma around mental health for the next generation” says Hannah Knight, Education Director at Pixel Learning, the organisation launching ThinkWell.
ThinkWell is for all young people aged 13+ across the UK. We have different versions of ThinkWell to suit the age, ability and setting of young people. There are KS3, KS4 and KS5 versions for young people in school. We have a ThinkWell version for young people in youth groups, colleges, PRUs and other out-of-school settings.
ThinkWell is also differentiated for the abilities of young people with stretch and challenge extension activities and simplified versions of tasks. We cater for young people with SEN and ESOL requirements. ThinkWell is designed to be inclusive and is suitable for all young people aged 13+.
We send a trained Workshop Leader and a qualified therapist to work with young people. The Workshop Leader runs ThinkWell which involves exclusive film footage, discussion and kinaesthetic activities to reflect the different stages of Jonny’s journey.
In an adjacent room, the qualified therapist runs ThinkWell Space for young people who are affected by the content of the ThinkWell workshop and may want to talk about their thoughts and feelings in a safe space. The ThinkWell therapist offers emotional support, mental health first aid and signposting to young people who visit the ThinkWell Space. We provide a full report of safeguarding concerns and action plans to the designated contact at the end of ThinkWell.
The aim of ThinkWell is to provide a safe and supportive environment to talk about mental health, demystify many of the stigmas – and silence – around this issue and, very importantly, provide information and signposting for young people. ThinkWell has 4 key messages:
- Everyone has mental health and mental health issues are common
- Talking about mental health issues is essential
- Reaching out for help is a positive step and lots of different types of help is available
- Recovery is possible and achievable
ThinkWell is run by Pixel Learning. Pixel Learning is a unique collaboration between film and education. Our aim is to use film to inspire empathy in young people empowering them to deal with challenging issues in their lives. We take the very best of documentary film-making and re-imagine it in interactive workshops that appeal to young people so that they can think about and explore these subjects in a safe and supportive environment. We have expertise in film-making, education, youth engagement and mentoring.