Mates in Mind Appeal & How To Be Kinder To Yourself

Jonny Benjamin writing for Rethink.

Mates in Mind has published a call for donations to its Covid-19 Relief Fund. Meanwhile, Jonny Benjamin writes about self-compassion and living with the inner critic.

This Relief Fund will allow Mates in Mind to continue to respond with vital support programmes.

It is now expected that workplace mental health issues, already a pervasive challenge, will get worse as a result of the economic fallout of Covid-19. For the construction industry this is particularly critical, as it already has a suicide rate among workers that is 3 times the national average.


 “We are now reaching out to supporters and across the industry to build up a reserve so we can do our part to mitigate the human cost of Covid-19 and its aftermath. My thanks to those that have already stepped forward to work with us.”

– Steve Hails 

Chair of the Board of Trustees, Mates in Mind


Continuing support

"This will allow us to continue to support the wider industry – construction, trades people, project management and others; across all sizes of businesses but particularly those that are smaller and self-employed – to get through this period and into the ‘new normal’ by enhancing our ability to continue to respond flexibly and creatively in the short-term to arising issues," continues Mates In Mind's Hails.


Every penny counts

Hails adds: "We are not setting any target – in the current climate we appreciate that every penny counts – and hope those who can will now join our efforts, to the best of their ability, to help move the UK construction industry workforce forward in good mental health.”


To find out how you can support this Appeal - Click Here


You Need To Be Kinder To Yourself, Jonny

For Mental Health Awareness Week (18-24 May 2020), Rethink Mental Illness ambassador Jonny Benjamin wrote about how he has begun to understand the power of self-compassion and learned to live with his inner critic. We publish his article here with kind permission.

'You need to be kinder to yourself, Jonny' were the words virtually every single mental health professional I saw in my 20s said, writes Jonny Benjamin. I knew they were right. I had always been extremely self-critical.

Yet since a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder led to being hospitalised just before my 21st birthday, the self-critic within me simply worsened.

I felt incredibly invalid. I couldn’t even bear to press the button at a set of traffic lights in order to stop traffic and cross the road. Why should someone give way to me?


Self compassion

Fortunately, when I was approaching 30, I was given a book entitled Self Compassion: stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind. The book, written by Professor Kristen Neff, is an exercise book which aims to quieten down the inner critic and increase self-kindness.

It was through completing the exercises in this book that I truly realised how brutally unkind I had been to myself.

The irony was of course that I didn’t treat anyone around me in such a callous way at all. In fact, I always tried my hardest to treat everyone else with much kindness and respect. All except myself I realised now at last.

Fast-forward three years and I wish that I could tell you that I’m a shining beacon of self-compassion.

But I have recently come to the realisation that the self-critic will forever be present in my life and that this is OK. For although he may always be with me, he doesn’t have to rule over me.


Compassion Focussed Therapy for Psychosis

Shortly after finishing Kristen Neff’s book I enrolled on a course I found called Compassion Focussed Therapy for Psychosis, run by Dr Charlie Heriot-Maitland and Eleanor Longden, whose TED talk about hearing voices I had long been inspired by.

Compassion Focussed Therapy, otherwise known as CFT, was developed by psychologist Paul Gilbert to help individuals with severe and enduring mental health problems, many of whom tend to have high levels of shame and self-criticism, according to the NHS.

I’m not ashamed to say that I was moved to tears while attending the course. Being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder had resulted in many years of self-stigma. Yet through listening to Charlie and Eleanor I realised that I didn’t need to continue to torture myself for the illness I had or the symptoms I experienced.


It was overwhelmingly liberating.


Some months after the course I finally began my own journey with Compassion Focussed Therapy.

It was unlike any type of therapy I had had before. I often felt overwhelmed during other therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) but there was something more accessible about CFT for me.

In my own journey to discover what helps me most, I’ve learned how different we are and that one type of therapy won’t work for everyone. But CFT has certainly helped me.


Not your fault

A real breakthrough came soon after when my therapist told me: 'Jonny, it isn’t your fault. It’s simply the way that your brain works'. I remember this moment palpably. Perhaps other people had tried to tell me this same thing before but at this particular moment the words sunk in beneath my skin.

Now, after much practice, I finally say those words to myself.



A year and a half ago I made a video on my YouTube channel about my journey with self-compassion which contains various tips I’ve been using along the way.



Kristen Neff

It is undoubtedly the video which I am most proud of making. I hope it may help you too if you are struggling with your own self-critic. If you’re curious, Kristen Neff’s book is a good place to start and is more easily accessible than therapy.

The book is still available on Amazon


Kindness to ourselves

When we’re young we’re taught about the importance of being kind to others, but I think we could all feel the benefits if we started to show more kindness to ourselves.

Picture: Jonny Benjamin writing for Rethink.


Article written by Cathryn Ellis
18th June 2020


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