I Can create change. I can influence high level decisions and implement new legislation regarding teacher training
I Am only 20, and a university student. Never underestimate how powerful your voice can be, and never let factors like your age get in the way of creating the world you want to live in.
I Will turn this into a positive story. The loss of Sam will always be on my mind, and it will always be devastating, but I will turn it into something that is positive.
Ben West – mental health campaigner and LinkedIn Changemaker
As a 17 year old boy, I had no idea what ‘mental health’ meant. That was until very unexpectedly and tragically, my 15 year old brother, Sam, took his own life in 2018.
I very quickly realised that mental health was something that just isn’t addressed or spoken about enough at school. Teachers are severely undertrained in how to deal with mental illness, in fact there is no requirement for teachers to receive any education on mental health as part of their teacher training. Yet, for every boy in every classroom, the most likely way for them to die is by suicide.
It was this passion to prevent the same situation arising for another family that lead me to start a petition to government calling for mandatory training of all teachers as part of teacher training. A petition that has now received over 300,000 signatures and the backing of the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.
We should all be able to talk about problems that we face without fear of stigma, whether that’s at work, in school or at home. And, now more than ever, embracing the conversation around mental health is vital.
This work has lead to Ben becoming one of only 40 people to be awarded with The Diana Legacy Award in 2019, a global accolade founded in the memory of Princess Diana by HRH Prince William and Harry.
In the wake of Sam’s death my family set up the Sam West Foundation which works to support young people suffering with their mental health.
To date I have –
– Collected 305,000 signatures on our petition
– raised over £100,000 for The Sam West Foundation
– Reached an audience of over 4 million people through social media
– trained nearly 100 members of staff in mental health first aid through the work of the charity
– Entered a joint funding initiative to bring Place 2 Be into schools which gives students access to a full time councillor and support.
April 7, 2022