A new exhibition, Labelled, will focus on mental health and gender within today’s society with guest speakers throughout the week including Jonny Benjamin who is well known for his Find Mike campaign.

In January 2008, Jonny stood on Waterloo Bridge preparing to take his life when a passer-by stopped to talk to him and helped change his mind.

Six years later, Jonny launched #FindMike in which he told this story and appealed for people to share the video so that he could find and thank the man who he felt saved his life.

Within 24 hours the clip had been shared 43,000 times and viewed more than a million times and within two weeks the man, Neil Laybourn, was found.

Since then Jonny has been working to raise awareness of mental health as well as in suicide prevention. We spoke to him about mental health and services in the UK today.

Tell me a bit about the current state of mental health provision?

Right now things are really bad. Promises for mental health services to young people are just not being delivered. We’ve got so much work to do. Physical health services still get the priority in terms of funding and research, all of it really. Mental health services are called Cinderella Services, they’re the first thing to go when there’s budget cuts.

Some people are waiting three years for treatment, just for an initial assessment. That would never happen with a physical health issue.

Can you tell me a bit about gender differences?

We know that men are much less likely to ask for help and they’re much less likely to stick around and wait for that help, and the drop-out rate is really high in mental health services.

We need to look at different approaches. The male suicide rate has stayed the same in 30 years, whereas the rate among women is halved.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in this country. I just don’t know what it is going to take for the government to take it seriously. There’s so much work to do.

Do you think the awareness and understanding is changing in people if not within services?

It is changing, absolutely, but there’s still a long way to go. High profile people speaking up, like Bruce Springsteen and Adele, helps it become much less stigmatised and more talked about.

How do you think the experience of the young and ‘digital generation’ is different?

Back in the day bullying would be in the playground, maybe after school, but when you got home that was it. Now it continues all night, all weekend, there’s no respite from online bullying. We don’t realise the effect it is having on young people, we will in years to come and that’s really concerning.

You work with people of all ages, in school and in prisons for example, is there a difference in attitudes?

Not really, both young people and adults face discrimination due to mental health. Young people might be more open, but otherwise there isn’t much different. Education needs to begin in primary school, then I think things would be really different.

What is really important for people to know?

People need to know there’s lots of different sources of support, friends and family yes, but also things like the Samaritans. They’re there 24/7 and not just for people who are suicidal, people who need support with any issue.

There’s Mind, they have online and telephone support, people who are understanding which you won’t always get from those around you. It’s so important to remember if you don’t get the reaction you expected from those you talk to.

Jonny will be speaking at the exhibition on Saturday, November 26. Other guest speakers throughout the week will include Angela Samata from Life After Suicide; Alika Agidi Jeffs, well known for the video uploaded online of him singing to a Rihanna song when he was having an episode, Jonathan Bindman, medical director at Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Mental Health Trust; and various mental health bloggers.

The exhibition will close with the previewing of a documentary made by the organiser Sam Bakarat, Jonny Benjamin and Alika Agidi-Jeffs.

Persian Advice Bureau, 638-640 High Road, North Finchley, N12 0NL, Tuesday, November 22 until Saturday, December 3. Details: sambakarat.com/labelled