The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge with former patient Jonny Benjamin (right), and Neil Laybourn during their visit to St Thomas' Hospital in London while promoting mental health issues and to highlight the help available for those who threaten to take their own lives.

The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke of Cambridge with former patient Jonny Benjamin (right), and Neil Laybourn

The Duke of Cambridge said he wants to ‘blow the lid off the taboo that is mental illness’, during a meeting with Jewish mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin. 

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge made a commitment to help raise awareness about mental illness, and have asked the former JFS student back to Kensington Palace for further discussions. 

At the meeting at St Thomas’ Hospital in London, where Jonny was a former a patient, they discussed his work tackling the problem, including going into schools and prisons to educate. 

He said the royal couple wanted to “blow the lid off the taboo that is mental illness and break the stigma.” 

Benjamin, who was diagnosed aged 20 with schizoaffective disorder, attempted suicide in 2008. His story came into the public eye after a successful online campaign to find the man who saved him.

Now working as a campaigner, speaking to Jewish News, he said the royal couple “wanted to hear our story, and the work we’re doing”.

He added, “The Duchess was particularly interested in my work in schools and the Duke was keen to focus on male mental health issues and what we can do to prevent suicide” which he says is now the biggest killer of men under 50 in this country.”

Benjamin said “they were incredibly lovely and seemed very passionate about raising awareness”, calling their their involvement “very important”.

“They’re extremely influential and can really help to spread our message of hope and recovery even wider.”

Jonny Benjamin is an ambassador for the Jewish mental health charity JAMI, who have been giving talks in synagogues and schools to promote educaiton about mental health within younger members of the Jewish community.

To mark World Suicide Prevention Day in 2014, Jonny wrote a column in the Jewish News which you can read here