It’s Ok To Talk
1908. Ben Ogden
Ben Ogden, from Harrogate, is a mental health awareness campaigner who has spent months standing in cities and towns across the UK holding signs encouraging people to talk about their mental health.
Ben found his mental health had worsened over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic but by speaking out he was able to move forward and improve his wellbeing. He was inspired to start his challenge on World Mental Health Day in October 2021 when he held a sign at Leeds station reading ‘My name is Ben and I get depressed sometimes #ItsOkayToTalk’. He has since amassed a huge following on TikTok, with millions of viewers watching his videos encouraging people in train stations to approach him and start conversations about wellbeing.
Ben’s award comes at the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, one of the largest awareness week campaigns which this year is highlighting how loneliness and social isolation impact on mental health, and how connecting with other people can improve wellbeing.
In a personal letter to Ben, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“Congratulations on the fantastic success of ‘It’s OK to Talk’. With your visits across the country, and viral online videos, you are helping millions of people to talk about mental wellbeing.
From hugs to a simple ‘hello’, I was inspired to learn of how you are connecting with people in their moment of need.”
“I feel extremely honoured that I’ve been chosen for the Point of Light award. The fact that what started as a one off event in Leeds train station has now got the attention of the Prime Minister makes all the times I’ve stood in the wind and rain with my signs worth it.”