02 December 2016

The Trust’s Break the Stigma campaign manager is to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Bedfordshire in recognition of his outstanding contribution to mental health services.

Ben Salmons, who battled his own mental health challenges, created the Break the Stigma initiative to help people across Bedfordshire understand more about the subject and to tackle common misconceptions.

Bill Rammell, Vic Chancellor and Chief Executive, has written to Ben saying the university would like to make him an Honorary Doctor of Science.

Mr Rammell said: “We very much hope you will feel able to accept this award, which reflects the university’s highest regard for your achievements.”

Ben (pictured with campaign supporter, author and MP Nadine Dorries), is delighted. 

“I am thrilled to bits,” he said.

“It shows what a fantastic Trust ELFT is.

“It was this trust along with Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), back a couple of years ago, who gave me the opportunities to get involved with mental health services and the support I was given is what has helped me to get to this point.

“Being given a platform to work from is something I will always be incredibly grateful for as it was that platform that enabled me to grow this Break The Stigma Campaign and pursue something I am so incredibly passionate about.”

The main focus of the campaign is for people to write a message on a white board headed ‘Let’s Be Open About Mental Health to Break the Stigma’.

They are then pictured with their comment and the image is shared through the campaign Facebook page and @LetsBreakStigma on Twitter, as well as the official East London NHS Foundation Trust Facebook page and @NHS_ELFT Twitter account.

It has been running for more than a year and been supported by hundreds of people including service users, Trust staff, MPs, Bedfordshire Police, East of England Ambulance Service and high-profile mental health author and vlogger Jonny Benjamin.

Ben also given talks to university students and held sessions through the Bedfordshire Mental Health Academy and Recovery College, run in partnership by the Trust and the University.

He will receive his honorary doctorate at a forthcoming graduation ceremony.