Jewish mental health activist joins three royals at ‘groundbreaking’ event

Jewish mental health activist joins three royals at ‘groundbreaking’ event

William, Kate and Harry launched an ambitious campaign to tackle the UK's attitude towards mental health

Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Jonny Benjamin (left) and Neil Layborn (right) speaking with Prince William
Jonny Benjamin (left) and Neil Layborn (right) speaking with Prince William

Jewish mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin joined the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry as they launched an ambitious campaign to help tackle the nation’s psychological problems.

William, Kate and Harry pledged to find “practical ways of providing everyone who needs help, with the right support and care” under their new Heads Together initiative.

Speaking together at the launch event at the Olympic Park in Stratford, they stressed the first thing was to change the national conversation “from one of silence and shame to one of optimism and support”.

The campaign will see the royal trio working with a number of leading mental health organisations, including: the Anna Freud Centre, Best Beginnings, CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably, Contact (a militarymental health coalition), Mind, Place2Be, The Mix, and YoungMinds.

Jonny Benjamin came into the public eye after successfully running an online campaign to find the man who saved his life, when he attempted suicide in 2008.

Now working as a campaigner, he called the the event “groundbreaking”. The former JFS pupil said: “having all three of the young royals there giving a speech about mental health and encouraging others to talk about a subject that has previously been a real taboo feels like a landmark moment for mental health.” 

He added the royals  “share the same passion and determination to make a difference” on the issue. 

Jonny was joined by the man who saved his life in 2008, Neil Laybourn, adding that they are now close friends and campaign together. 

Neil Layborn (left) and Jonny Benjamin (right
Neil Laybourn (left) and Jonny Benjamin (right

He said they were going to continue working with the royals to develop the campaign and “have also today agreed to run the marathon for Heads Together.”

This comes after the campaigner’s initial meeting with Prince William in March 2016, during which the Duke of Cambridge said he wanted to ‘blow the lid off the taboo that is mental illness’.

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 .


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