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Kemp shares mental health battle

Roman Kemp
Roman Kemp Image credit: liverpoolecho.co.uk

Capital FM presenter Roman Kemp has compared his mental health battles to stepping in the ring with Mike Tyson and not having ‘one boxing lesson’.

Speaking on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch on Wednesday Kemp spoke about how he struggled after losing his friend and producer Joe Lyons in August 2020 when he took his own life.

He told host Steph McGovern:  'I’ve had a lot of troubles of my own, I’ve dealt with suicidal thoughts, I’ve been on anti-depressants for 15 years of my life.

'I feel that, sometimes, if my brain gets in a situation where it feels like it’s been beaten up by Mike Tyson, I feel like I’m in a boxing ring and not had one boxing lesson.'

In Lyons memory his family and Kemp launched the Joe’s Buddy Line charity which aims to provide mental health education in schools.

Speaking about the cause Kemp said: 'It has to be engrained into lessons and it has to be engrained into schools… as early as possible. Understanding that talking is something that can help us.'

He added: 'It’s about teaching kids and showing kids these are the tools you need so that when you come up against these demons, you’ll be able to knock them out the park, you’ll be able to deal with them, you’ll be able to talk about them.

'Unfortunately, when people reach the age of 16, particularly boys, they make a conscious decision of how much they’re going to let someone in.

'No matter how many chats they have, they’ll always hold something back. 

'It’s about being able to engrain that talking about feelings and looking out for trigger points, looking out for your mates is something that needs to happen in schools from that earlier age.'

Kemp has suffered from depression since the age of 15, at one stage he considered taking his own life.

Sharing his personal story he presented BBC documentary Our Silent Emergency last March which focused on mental health and male suicide.

Kemp told Steph McGovern: 'I wish I knew nothing about suicide, I wish it was not part of my world, I wish I didn’t know anyone. 

'I’m sure it’s the same for Joe’s family… It’s the biggest killer in men under 40 so how come people aren’t talking about it? How come it’s not being taught in schools at a young age? 

'I never like to get political but the ignorance of the government on it is unbelievable and the stats show that… I’m sure there’s a lot of schoolteachers that might see this chat and will agree that not enough is being done to help pupils in school.'

The late singer George Michael was Roman Kemp’s godfather.