'It's ok to talk' - the message of a man who stood in Leeds station to encourage World Mental Health Day discussion

'It's ok to talk' – that was the message of a Skipton man who stood in Leeds train station with a 'Let's Talk' sign in an attempt to encourage increased discussion about mental health.

By Alex Grant
Saturday, 9th October 2021, 4:45 am

Ben Ogden, 23, who has suffered with bouts of mental illness, exacerbated by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic took the action to raise awareness in preparation for World Mental Health Day on Sunday (October 10).

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Talking to the Yorkshire Evening Post about his own story Ben explained: “I've always had down days which I have always been quite closed about even to my family but since the pandemic I was just in this downward spiral. I would be fine for a couple of days and then I wouldn't be able to get up. It just got worse then I decided that's enough I need to talk about this.”

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Ben Ogden, 23, stood in Leeds train station to encourage people to open up about their mental health.

Ben revealed that the divorce of his parents combined with the deaths of loved ones deepened the spiral until finally seeking help from family and friends.

Upon reaching out Ben discovered that a friend, Matt Payne, was feeling the same way and together they hatched the plan to set up a YouTube channel in order to reach a wider audience.

Whilst researching for the channel Ben explained how one statistic in particular really hit home: “One in four people suffer from mental health issues and considering I had never really spoken to anyone about it, I just couldn't believe it. To think that you could sit at a table on a train and at least one of those three other people are likely to have suffered with their mental health. I found that stat really overwhelming and quite shocking.”

Having taken on many challenges to push themselves both physically and mentally, including a cross country run with no shoes, Ben and Matt decided they needed to find a way to reach out to the public in person and not just over a computer screen, which led to the idea of standing in Leeds station with a sign.

Ben was encouraged by the response to his sign with many stopping to admit their own mental health struggles.

The sign which read 'My name is Ben and I get depressed sometimes. Let's talk.' was designed to spark conversation and Ben says that the response he received from the public was incredible: “I have never been so scared, I was shaking like a leaf but the feeling that I got when the first person came up and said 'I feel those feelings too. You're not alone, keep it up' was amazing. There must have been 10 to 15 people who said 'Amazing job. I feel it too'.”

Ben revealed that it wasn't just younger people who stopped with even a man in his mid-60s stopping to express that he too struggles with his mental health.

Mental health does not discriminate and can impact people of all ages, genders and ethnicities, with Ben himself perhaps putting it best. It's ok to talk.

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Anyone suffering from mental illness is encouraged to reach out for help, even if just to family and friends.