Mental health crusader
582. Jonny Benjamin (Middlesex)
Jonny Benjamin was prevented from committing suicide by jumping from Waterloo Bridge by a stranger, who talked to him until he was calm and contacted the emergency services.
At the time, Jonny wasn’t able to remember his good Samaritan’s name, but thought it could be ‘Mike’. After six years in recovery, Jonny launched the ‘Find Mike’ campaign triggering millions of responses from around the world and facilitating a worldwide conversation about mental health.
Jonny was eventually reunited with ‘Mike’, real name Neil Laybourn, and was inspired to dedicate his life to improving understanding around mental health and suicide prevention. He has since reached thousands of people through his video blogs and acclaimed educational workshops for young people.
Jonny is currently working with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry on their ‘Heads Together’ campaign.
In a personal letter to Jonny, Prime Minister Theresa May said:
“Your work to improve understanding around mental health and suicide has reached thousands of people through your video blogs and is making an important contribution to combatting the stigma that still all too often discourages people from talking about their experiences.”
“It means such a great deal to receive this award. Every day I meet people affected by mental illness and suicide through the work I do in schools, prisons and hospitals. I know there’s so much more we can do to reduce the stigma and suffering attached to these issues. After overcoming my own struggles, I want to do everything I can to help others, and receiving this award makes me even more determined to achieve this.”
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