Mental health campaigner Ben urges Boris Johnson to improve teacher training
Mental health campaigner Ben West has delivered a 210,000-strong petition to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on World Mental Health Day.
The petition calls for compulsory mental health first aid training for teachers.
The 19-year-old was met by Mr Johnson on Downing Street on Thursday morning before he handed the petition over and went inside to make his case.
Mr West, from near Cranbrook in Kent, became a mental health campaigner after losing his younger brother to suicide in 2018.
“We started this with the hope to help one person,” he told PA Media after the meeting.
“To be able to have this platform and be recognised at this level just is really surreal.”
The petition, which has more than 210,000 signatures, urges the Government to train teachers to ensure they have the tools and knowledge to help struggling students.
Mr West said he spoke with the Prime Minister about the need for training for teachers.
The campaigner said that while the Government is not doing enough to support mental health at the moment, he hopes the meeting is a step in the right direction.
“They’re conscious that mental health awareness for teachers is a priority,” he said.
“It’s now a case of applying the pressure… to make sure they follow through.”
Mr West said the government has pledged to review teacher training courses and he will make sure they follow through in a “reasonable” time.
“This is a significant problem,” he said.
“It’s a case of using the support we have attracted, using the relationship we have now made with government to try and push this to become a reality because we think this can really help many, many people.”
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson attended The Sun newspaper’s Who Cares Wins ceremony where Mr West won the Mental Health Hero Award.