Man who 'exposed his biggest secret' in the middle of the street praised by complete strangers
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"If you actually look at the video, my knees are actually shaking, you can physically see them."
On 10 October 2021, Ben Ogden decided to stand in the middle of a busy Leeds train station and expose his 'biggest secret'.
Ben was terrified at the time, but looking back, he wouldn't change a thing.
See him in action below:
It’s that typical lad response to say that I am ‘fine’ when a mate or relative asks how they are doing.
But unfortunately, a lot of lads are not fine and are often bottling up their true feelings to the closest people in their lives.
Former personal trainer Ben Ogden is trying to help not just lads, but everyone in opening up about their mental health.
Lockdown was a very tough time for Ben, and like many of us, he struggled with the isolation of not seeing any friends and family.
Speaking to LADbible, Ben admitted that he had problems with his mental health before coronavirus hit, but things got worse when we were forced to stay indoors.
His parents got a divorce during the pandemic, and Ben ended up in therapy without actually telling anyone due to the stigma that still remains surrounding mental health.
But using his own experiences, Ben was determined to help remove said stigma, so he drafted a few ideas for what he could do for World Mental Health Day 2021.
"I decided to have a conversation with Matt, who was my videographer at the time, about what we could do for World Mental Health Day," Ben said.
This is when the now-social media manager came up with the idea to talk about mental health in a very unique way.
He said: "I came up with this concept to basically stand in the street with a sign exposing my biggest secret.
"The best way to show that people should be talking is to be exposed myself."
So, for World Mental Health Day 2021, Ben decided to stand in Leeds train station with a sign that read: 'My name is Ben, and I get depressed sometimes'.
It goes without saying, this was quite a big thing to do, with Ben pointing out that he was very nervous when he stepped out into the station.
"It was genuinely like people were looking straight through my body," he said.
Despite his nerves, Ben said that 10 October 2021 was a very successful day and he was left surprised at how many people approached him.
He was inspired to make a change after learning about the stats surrounding mental health.
Three times as many men as women die by suicide. Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. And suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 50.
Obviously, everyone’s mental health is important, but stats do show that men are for one, more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health condition, and two, less likely to reach out for help when they need it.
Despite all of his nerves, Ben knew he needed to do something to prevent this mental health epidemic from escalating further.
"I was stood there for about 45 minutes, and maybe 20 people stopped and chatted with me," Ben said.
"[There] was a lot of guys who came up to me and said, 'you're doing something good for us here, we need to get men talking as well about mental health'."
Ben also pointed out how he was 'shocked' that a lot of the older generation approached him, citing that he thinks there is a stigma surrounding mental health in that generation.
Since that day in Leeds, Ben has gone across the UK displaying his signs for all to see.
But how does he decide what he writes on them? Well, Ben says he usually starts with something that will grab people's attention.
Some of his signs have had text reading 'If you feel alone, let's talk', 'if you are having a bad day, let's talk', and 'if you've struggled with mental health, let's talk', just to name a few.
Ben doesn't just see people who come up to him for a chat as a success, but also people that have a glance at him and walk past.
He said: "I've seen so many people just walk past me, and not even come and talk to me just look, and then walk off and look again.
"I know that they've probably gone and spoke to their families that night, or they've spoken to their friends and said, 'I saw this guy today who's talking about mental health'.
"Then that conversation has started without me even needing to say anything."
Earlier in the interview, Ben said that if he helped just one person through his signs, it would be a 'win in my eyes'.
But being a bit of a sign veteran these days, Ben says that a lot of people have come up to him to say that his signs and his videos on TikTok (@itsbenogden) have helped them.
He recalls when three of his followers came up to him in Kings Cross Station, saying that they had been following him for a year.
Ben added: "I think it really shows like the kindness of people.
"I've had people come and buy me coffees, buy me lunch, because they recognise me, it's really lovely.
"Every time that happens, when it's a cold and wet, windy day, it gives me motivation to go out again."
His powerful signs have gone that viral and the World Health Organisation approached him last year.
Ben is now working on a social media campaign with the agency surrounding mental health, something he certainly wouldn't have expected when he ventured into Leeds train station with the sign 16 months ago.
Featured Image Credit: Supplied
Topics: Mental Health