After Dinner Speakers – Jonny Benjamin & Neil Leybourn
Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn are award winning mental health campaigners. Their journey together began in 2008 when Neil talked Jonny out of taking his own life by jumping from the edge of Waterloo Bridge in London. Jonny had just been diagnosed with schizophrenia and depression and was extremely unwell. Neil’s interaction saved his life but the two were soon separated when the police intervened and took Jonny away to be sectioned.
6 years later, in 2014, Jonny launched a campaign on Twitter to find and thank the man who had stopped him taking his own life – #FindMike – it became a global news campaign that reached over 300 million people around the world and was successful in reuniting the 2 strangers within a matter of weeks from the campaign being launched.
What followed was an emotional meeting and the beginning of a journey where both men united to campaign around the issues of both mental health and suicide, which is now the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK.
The story of their journey was made into a TV documentary, The Stranger on the Bridge, which aired on Channel 4 in 2015 and had a meaningful impact on millions of viewers. The documentary has won a number of awards and is currently being aired internationally. Jonny now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles and given various interviews on TV, Radio and in print around the world to help educate and break stigma. He has recently been campaigning to get mental health onto the curriculum in schools and this last launched a mental health workshop, ThinkWell, which is now being introduced into secondary schools across the country.
After a private meeting with Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge in March this year, Jonny and Neil were invited by the Royal Foundation to represent the ‘Heads Together’ charity in running for the 2017 London Marathon.
Join us at the Design in Mental Health Awards Dinner to find out more about their story and their bid to raise awareness and make a difference within mental health.