What is it?
Finding Mike is a 44-minute-long film produced by the mental health charity Rethink Mental Illness. It follows Johnny Benjamin, who was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder when he was 20. More than six years ago, Benjamin sat on the edge of Waterloo Bridge in London, about to take his life. A stranger, whose name he could not remember, talked him out of jumping and took him for a cup of coffee. In the film, Benjamin attempts to find that stranger, who he has since referred to as Mike, to thank him for what he did. The film shows Benjamin documenting his feelings and actions in the emotional process of finding the man who saved his life. It also features people who are thought to be or know Mike, and Benjamin talks to Lisa Vickery, whose twin brother took his own life.
The social media campaign to #FindMike started on 14 January this year, exactly six years after ‘Mike’ spoke to Johnny on Waterloo Bridge, and reached people all over the world. The hashtag was trending in the UK, the USA, Australia and South Africa; celebrities such as Stephen Fry picked up on it; and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, backed the campaign. The Facebook page Finding Mike received more than 1,600 likes, and hundreds of people uploaded their picture to the page with a note about the people who had helped them, using the hashtag #MyMike.
Why is the charity doing it?
The film was made to spread awareness about mental illness, and to give a personal insight into how one person can change someone else's life. "For me, this project has always been about more than just finding ‘Mike’ – it’s also been about raising awareness of suicide, which takes a life every 40 seconds around the world," Benjamin said. "I want it to spread a message of hope, and for people to see that it is possible to recover from, and learn to manage, a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia."
Who’s behind the campaign?
Benjamin, now a mental health campaigner, writer, poet and presenter, worked on the film himself, in cooperation with Rethink Mental Illness and the independent production company Postcard Productions. The film used music from Echoic Audio, and Neil Laybourne – who turned out to be the actual ‘Mike’ – also contributed to the film.
Third Sector verdict
This film tells an emotional story about suicide and mental illness, and personal stories bring a very real perspective on these issues. The story of Benjamin and ‘Mike’ is a good example of how a good samaritan can make a big difference.