We are delighted to present 87% in conversation with Jonny Benjamin MBE.

Jonny is currently one of the UK's biggest mental health advocates, and talks candidly about his own personal experiences. Jonny was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in 2007, when he was 20 years old. He discusses the turbulent aftermath that followed his diagnosis which resulted in him on Waterloo bridge with the intention of jumping off it, until the stranger on the bridge (Neil Laybourn) came along and literally saved his life.

_93190089_jonnybenjamin-credithim.jpg

“The conversation around mental health IS changing. Having the young Royals talking about mental health is helping to create a shift in attitudes.”

Now over a decade later, Jonny and Neil work as an extremely impactful mental health advocacy duo, focusing on all areas including workplaces, youth and many more. Jonny talks about the need for more men to talk openly about their mental health, along with his involvement with the young Royals.

heads-together1.jpg

Neil and Jonny running the London marathon in 2017.

He talks about the changes that need to be made when it comes to mental health waiting lists and he tells us about his new venture ‘Beyond Shame, Beyond Stigma’ intended to give grants to companies who are making waves in mental health but have had funding taken away.

Jonny, thank you. Enjoy everyone! 

Below we have the podcast in both audio and video form, choose whichever format you like.

Podcast:

Video:

Managing unpredictable people

This article takes less than 3 minutes to listen to - or if you prefer a short read the extended article is below the audio…

We’ve all tried to reason with an unreasonable person. Whether it’s at work, or within your personal life. But sadly, sometimes you can’t reason with a difficult person. However, we have some handy techniques to help you navigate through these trying times.

However odd these tips might sound  at first, when you're dealing with a highly unreasonable person the fear response part of your brain is activated. This part of the brain can't distinguish between someone shouting at you or an imminent physical attack. Which means you need to engage your conscious mind to relax and defuse the scenario.

argument.png

These tips will help shift your mindset from a fear and defensive approach, to a calm and logical one.

  1. It’s so important to LISTEN. It might sound obvious, but listening is key when handling difficult people.Everyone, reasonable or not wants to be heard, and know they are making some form of impact. Therefore nothing can be resolved unless the pest in question feels acknowledged. Try to focus on what the person is actually saying and not what you’re going to say - it might change your original answer.

  2. Always stay calm and composed. When is a situation ever made better by being highly emotionally charged? It can make you over emotional, angry and view it entirely different. Step back, apply some logic and stay calm.

  3. Don’t be judgey. You have no idea what this seemingly unreasonable person is going through… not all battles are visible. The likelihood is that they are feeling a tinge of fear, or  highly vulnerable as a person.

  4. Respect, respect and a bit more respect. No matter how a person is treating you, showing contempt will not help the situation, but showing respect always will help.

  5. Identify a hidden agenda… question, what does this person need? Or, what is this person trying to avoid?

  6. Try not to get defensive - it’s never a good look. Obviously, you’re not enjoying the other person being unreasonable, and naturally you’re going to want to defend yourself. Take a breath... and consider that this individual is emotionally charged, and isn’t being entirely logical, and most importantly try not to take it personally.

Next time you are in a difficult conversation, or dealing with a particular unreasonable person, try these techniques, one, two or all of them if they help, let us know - we guarantee above all else, you’ll feel calmer and happier with how you personally dealt with that person.

4 ways to curb common worries

We lovely humans are rather skilled in the art of worrying. Sometimes our worries are totally rational, and other times it’s like we’ve plucked them from thin air. We’ve got some handy tips for curbing those niggly thoughts to maintain your mental fitness.

There are several persistent worries in life that sometimes we don’t have much control over, such as taxes, financial insecurity and at some point (bleakly) death. Once you have these cemented in your mind, it might make it easier to prioritise and process the worries going on in your life. We’ve debunked some of these colossal worries, helping you break down the worrisome factors into digestible and manageable steps.

Bills…

However frequently your bills occur, monthly, quarterly, or annually it’s fair to say they are fairly relentless. Ignoring their existence isn’t really an option otherwise you’ll land yourself in a more sticky financial bind. One thing is certain, we all have bills, therefore it’s a problem we all face so let’s use the Wikipedia mentally here, 10,000 heads are better than one.

Here’re some tips around taking control when it comes to bills and payments:

  • Create a realistic budget for yourself and actually stick to it. It’s all very well and good putting together a budget of your outgoings and commitments, but using it month to month is an entirely different thing. Put your budget above and beyond everything, this is how you are going to maintain your lifestyle - it’s important. Overall, budgeting in this strict and responsible way will help you gain a bird’s-eye view of your bills and how they affect you.

  • Make a sacrifice, remove unimportant bills. By the sheer fact of you needing to budget means that you are finding it difficult to manage your finances. So, a good place to start would be to cut some of your ‘nice to have but non-essential’ bills. Stopping your cable TV might be hard, but that is always a drain on finances. There are lots of entertainment options available which might halve your monthly bill. The likes of Netflix or Amazon Prime are likely cheaper than cable TV deals.

  • Price compare EVERYTHING. There are so many helpful services that can compare insurance deals, car prices, electricity suppliers etc. Don’t let yourself be ripped off, you might even be able to save some of your hard earned money.

Failure…

Fear of failure, how many times have you let this worry you? I can imagine a fair few times. Humans have the great gift of being able to experience new things everyday, no matter how big or small these might be. It’s funny, because when you are younger and don’t understand the action of judgement trying new things is entirely natural.

Once upon a time we were all totally immobile, then the next thing we know we are crawling into cupboards and causing chaos for our ever worried parents, who now must control a curious baby who is very much ‘on the move’. Failure doesn’t even pop into our young infant minds because exploration is innate, as we grow older and understand that others are watching what we do and say, the fear of failure opens up and manifests, making life harder than it ever was before. Next time you tell yourself you can’t, why not channel the baby brain in you… what would they do? As we become adults, some of us lose that precious quality we once possessed.

Never stop being curious, never stop trying new things, and never stop allowing failure to make you stronger!

The Past…

If you think about it, most of humanity’s wars happened because of conflicting beliefs over what happened in the past. Which arguably isn’t want you want to create within your own life.

The past is undoubtably important to learn and reflect from, especially if you’ve been down a few rocky roads. But, you shouldn’t let it get in your way and become an overwhelming burden that prevents you from moving forward. Standing still is never the desirable option, sometimes it’s easy but it won’t get you anywhere in the long run.

Don’t be ashamed of past obstacles and decisions you’ve made, that’s what has made you be you. It’s hard to not let what has happened previously distract you and impose on your future personal goals.

These tests are there to try us, learn from these, and fight that little bit harder next time. It’s a simple, but sometimes hard to play out in a real life concept… The only way you can continue being harmed by something that already happened is if you let it. Stop letting these things get to you, and start living your best life.

Being yourself…

In reality not everyone is going to like you, to all the people pleasers out there this is a very hard pill to swallow. But, it is a fact of life.

As mentioned earlier, judgement in our 2019 societal bubble if rife. What with ITV2’s Love Island bringing in staggering ratings night in, night out which is predominantly a show where judging others is the name of the game, a glorified popularity contest. Sadly, this is popular among numerous generations, but I question why? Does it take away from your own life, can you in that 1 hour a night get absorbed in something so far away from your own existence that you can literally escape? Is this level of judgement cathartic?

Learning that not everyone is going to like you can ultimately be liberating. The self imposed ‘must be liked’ shackles are released and you are free to be yourself. Think about it, how many times a day do you let others influence your thoughts and feelings? Try to not let this happen and think through what you genuinely think rather than a sometimes biased view.

87%'s handy guide to mental fitness

Add a heading (4).png

When anyone says 'physical fitness' most people understand exactly what that means, however when the term 'mental fitness' is used, this is a less certain term. It's our mission here at 87% to get the UK mentally ship shape and resilient enough to handle anything life throws at us.

Research conducted in the UK found that only 13% of people said they have positive mental health, we are solely here for the 87%. Help us change our name to 0%.

We've put together a handy guide explaining what mental fitness it, how we are here to help and what functions our app has to help you maintain your mental fitness and resilience.

Take a peek below!

Using physical exercise to manage anxiety

Anxiety arises when facing a stressful or dangerous situation and is often referred to as ‘Fight or Flight’. In ordinary circumstances the body will quickly call on its reserves to send adrenaline through the body to help cope with the situation one might find themselves in. Anxiety arises from the body over doing its response or generating adrenaline when the danger does not exist. 

According to NHS data, 1 in 6 people in England report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week.

arek-adeoye-ljoCgjs63SM-unsplash.jpg

Anxiety is a normal emotion and at times can actually be helpful to manage feelings. The good thing is that there are factors that can help people handle anxiety, a combination of therapy, medication and self help strategies. The key here is finding a balance where people can control their anxiety and not allowing anxieties to control them.

One key strategy of managing stress or anxiety is through regular exercise. Much has been written about the physical benefits of exercise and in particular for improving physical conditions and fighting disease. However, physical exercise is also brilliant at enhancing and maintaining mental fitness. Studies have proven that sport and exercise can reduce stress and while simultaneously minimising fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and enhancing overall cognitive function.

Sports or running can be especially helpful when stress has sapped your energy after a long day at the office or you’ve lost your ability to concentrate.

Anxiety and stress affect the brain, with its many nerve connections, to produce a knock on effect on the body. It makes perfect sense then that if your body feels better, so will your mind. 

Sports and other physical activities produce endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that work as a natural panacea. Being physically tired from exercise is also a fantastic way to improve sleep and that in turn keeps stress levels low.

Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been proven to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilise mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem. Even as little as five minutes of aerobic exercise can help combat anxiety and stress effects.


Sports are also a wonderful way to build self-confidence to help fight off anxieties. Playing well and encouraging others in a team environment brings people closer together and provides a sense of achievement.

Having more belief in your own abilities means you will start to feel better about yourself, so get playing!

Will Chrimes is Head of Communication at Playfinder. For more information, go to playfinder.com.