Teens Mental Health

Parents go back to school in Buckingham to learn about teenage mental health from celebrity campaigner

Parents of teenagers are invited to a free seminar next week by one of the UK’s best-known mental health champions.

Jonny Benjamin MBE will visit Akeley Wood Senior School on Tuesday, (12th June) to address the mental and emotional wellbeing of adolescents. Parents will learn how they can identify these issues and support their child.

Benjamin, diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, attempted suicide eight years ago. After being reunited with the man who talked him from down from Waterloo Bridge, he documented his story in a film, and later a memoir, called The Stranger on the Bridge, broadcast on Channel 4.

He will recount his own story and talk to parents about his new ThinkWell initiative. ThinkWell delivers sessions direct to young people by highly trained workshop leaders and qualified therapists. It provides a safe and supportive environment to talk about mental health, helps remove the stigma and silence around the issue and provides information and signposting for young people. Year 9 and Year 10 pupils at the independent school will receive a session by ThinkWell on Tuesday.

The seminar will begin at 7:00 pm and take place at Akeley Wood Senior School, Akeley Wood House, MK18 5AE. It will run for up to one hour and parents will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end. It is open to parents with pre-teen or teenage children, whether or not they attend the school. Admission is free but booking is required, click HERE to reserve your seats. Refreshments will be available.

Benjamin, who met with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge last year to discuss suicide prevention, said more should be done in schools to raise awareness of teenage mental health. Studies suggest that more than 75 per cent of mental illness begins in adolescence.

He said: “My passion has always been young people, mainly because of what I went through when I was younger. Teaching pupils about mental health should be a compulsory part of the curriculum, just as physical education is. We’re taught how to look after our bodies, but surely it’s just as important to learn how to look after our minds.”

With close connections to influencers and policymakers in the mental health sector, Jonny Benjamin’s work has important implications for the curriculum set in schools.

Simon Antwis, Headteacher of Akeley Wood Senior School, said: “We are always keen to learn how we can improve the pastoral care that we provide: understanding our pupils is key to us better serving their needs.

“This is such an important issue for many families. I am delighted to host Jonny and give our own parents and others in the community the chance to hear from him so they may be better equipped to help their own children, should the need arise.”