Neil Laybourn, founder of This Can Happen and Jonny Benjamin MBE are award-winning mental health campaigners. They never imagined that a chance meeting on Waterloo Bridge in London would change the course of their lives forever.
In 2008 Neil walked past Jonny Benjamin, sitting by the bridge, contemplating taking his own life. He stopped to talk to him and persuaded him to take a step back. The pair then went their separate ways.
In 2014, 6 years later, Jonny launched a high profile social media search, with Rethink Mental Illness dubbed the #FindMike campaign, this became a global news campaign that reached over 300 million people around the world, helping Jonny find the man who talked him out of jumping off a bridge, when he was suicidal. This emotional meeting went viral, reuniting the pair for the first time since it happened.
After the pair met, Neil was deeply affected and became an ambassador for the national mental health charities ‘Rethink Mental Illness’ and ‘Mental Health UK’, helping them address mental health and suicide prevention awareness.
In 2014 Neil was recognised with a Pride of Britain award for his part in the #FindMike campaign and the following year Channel 4 told their amazing story in the award-winning ‘Stranger on the Bridge’ documentary.
Jonny spent 2017 writing the first of 2 books on mental health that was published in May 2018. His second book, currently titled The Book Of Hope, will be a collection of quotes, poems and stories by himself and others to inspire recovery and hope. It will be published in 2020.
In July 2018, the University of Bristol awarded Neil and Jonny honorary doctorates in recognition of their exceptional work as mental health campaigners. This year the pair will launch their new mental health charity, Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma. ‘Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma’ is a grant-giving organisation which aims to provide mental health support to young people, their families and teachers.
The pair has spent the last 4 years helping organisations from schools and universities to large corporates and everybody in-between in the UK and across the world, to eradicate the stigma of mental health and offer real support to workers facing challenges.
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