THE heartbroken family of a teenager who took her own life earlier this year are encouraging young Islanders struggling with their mental health to talk – after a fundraising campaign in her memory raised more than £100,000.
Ben Mason launched the online appeal to help teenage mental-health charities following the death of his 14-year-old sister Kezia, a Year 10 student at Jersey College for Girls.
The appeal was set up with the intention of raising £1,500, but within hours tens of thousands of pounds had been pledged and it later hit six figures.
Ben, a 16-year-old Victoria College student, donated £3,000 of the money raised to Mind Jersey this week – Mental Health Awareness Week – adding that he had picked the charity because ‘it does a lot of targeted work with teens’.
The donation will ‘help them to prevent things like this from happening in the future,’ said Ben, who hopes it will ‘facilitate kids talking without it being a massive stigma’.
The family, including father Rob and mother Esther, hopes to raise awareness of mental health following their traumatic experience.
Asked whether he had a message during Mental Health Awareness Week, Ben responded with two words: ‘Just talk.’
Ben, who is in the midst of sitting his GCSEs, will be getting together with peers from schools across the Island, his friends and Kezia’s friends to decide how best to use the rest of the money raised to support the mental health of young Islanders.
A recent Twitter post from Rob about his ‘amazing daughter’ did much to raise awareness, describing the ‘brutal pain of her not being here’ as a constant. Hundreds engaged with the post, and Rob encouraged people not just to ‘like’ posts on social media, but to click through, read about what the various charities and organisations do and share this in whatever way they could.
‘We are trying to raise the profile of mental health,’ said Rob.
Resources were available, Esther said, who stressed that mental health was a very ‘individual thing’ and that it was not ‘one size fits all’.
Mind Jersey executive director Dr Patricia Tumelty said they were ‘very grateful to Ben and his family for this generous donation in memory of Kezia and we will ensure it helps us to reach and support more young people in Jersey’.
Islanders can still donate to the fundraiser at: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Keziamason.