National Student Pride to highlight mental health

Gary Hart January 27, 2016

“Mental health is still a taboo in the LGBT Community – We need to change that”, says author Jonny Benjamin.


One in four of LGBT people will face mental health issues in their lives, 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.

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.

Jonny Benjamin, was going to take his life before a “stranger on a bridge” stopped him.

Jonny Benjamin
Jonny Benjamin

Speaking ahead of Student Pride where he will be on the panel for the mental health debate, Jonny 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.”

He continued: “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.”

A spokesperson for National Student Pride, said: “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.”

The Mental Health debate will take place during National Student Pride on February 6, at the University of Westminster’s Marylebone campus, opposite Baker Street.

Speakers on the panel will include:

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
Taz-Edwards White

Taz-Edwards White, LGBT Adult Mental Health & Wellbeing Coordinator at Metro, 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.”

Dr Greg Ussher
Dr Greg Ussher

Metro CEO Dr Greg Ussher, added: “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
Hatti Smart

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”

For up to date information about National Student Pride from February 5-7 , click here: