Ambassadors and high-profile supporters
Learn who our celebrity supporters and ambassadors are, and discover how they’re helping us improve the lives of everyone severely affected by mental illness
Jonny Benjamin MBE is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger. At the age of 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Jonny now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles, presented documentaries and given media interviews around the world to help educate stigma. His 2014 social media campaign with Rethink Mental Illness to #FindMike, the man who talked him out of jumping off a bridge when he was suicidal, went viral and led to Jonny becoming a prominent spokesperson on the subject of suicide. Jonny is the co-founder of charity Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma, and ThinkWell, a mental health programme for schools. Jonny’s book The Stranger on the Bridge: My Journey from Despair to Hope was published in May 2018 and he is currently working on his second.
Dr Dean Burnett
Dean Burnett is a doctor of neuroscience, graduating from the Cardiff University School of Psychology with a PhD in Behavioural neuroscience in 2009, soon after which he became the course tutor and lecturer for Cardiff University’s ground-breaking online MSc in Psychiatry, where he spent nearly 7 years teaching medics and psychologists from all over the world about all facets of mental health, including the associated treatments and their underlying science. However, Dean also lived something of a parallel life in comedy while all this was going on. He started performing stand up comedy in 2003, a hobby he still indulges in to this day, but this unique blend of neuroscience and humour led to him taking up blogging and writing humorous science articles. He eventually became part of the Guardian science network, and wrote their most popular blog ‘Brain Flapping’ for 6 whole years. This led to further work in the media and publishing. He is the author of the bestselling book ‘The Idiot Brain’ and it’s similarly popular follow up ‘The Happy Brain’, with more on the way. Dean is now a full-time author and contributor, and is increasingly in-demand by radio, TV and written media as someone who can offer clear, understandable, but impressively thoughtful and insightful explanations about all aspects of mental health.
As a comedian, Juliette has had total sold out runs at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. She tours internationally to sold out crowds. She’s presented and appeared on The One Show (BBC One), This Morning (ITV), BBC at the Edinburgh Festivals (BBC iPlayer), and more. As a writer, Juliette has contributed to Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post and the BBC News. She has a long history of mental health conditions and has been diagnosed with anorexia, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, bulimia, compulsive overeating disorder, depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. She was sectioned under the Mental Health Act aged 17. She continues on an ongoing journey of recovery, is still in therapy and manages her mental health one day at a time.
Alastair Campbell is a writer, communicator and strategist best known for his role as Tony Blair’s spokesman, press secretary and director of communications and strategy. He is currently an advisor to the People’s Vote campaign. Alastair is an ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness, Time to Change, Alcohol Concern, and a patron of Maytree and Kidstime. He has written and presented on the subject of mental health, winning considerable praise from mental health charities and campaign groups. Alastair has made a number of documentaries on mental health including a film on depression which was broadcast by the BBC in May 2019.
Bryony Gordon is a Journalist and author. She is a columnist at The Daily Telegraph, and author of four books - Mad Girl, The Wrong Knickers, Eat, Drink, Run and You Got This. She is the creator of the Mad World podcast, where she has interviewed well known people including HRH Prince Harry, Frank Bruno and Fearne Cotton about their mental health. Bryony also founded Mental Health Mates, a national initiative where people can meet, walk and talk. Bryony has run the London Marathon twice in order to campaign and raise awareness about two issues close to her heart – mental health and positive body image.
Multi-award winning comedian, presenter, actor, author and scriptwriter Russell Kane is best known as the host of three series of BBC3‘s Live At The Electric, regular appearances on BBC1’s Live At Apollo, BBC3’s Unzipped, ITV2’s Celebrity Juice and I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here...Now! Russell was nominated four times for prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards before winning Best Show in 2010. His award-winning show Smokescreens & Castles was recorded in front of his home crowd in Westcliff-on-Sea’s at the Palace Theatre and released by Universal Pictures in 2011. Famed for his critically acclaimed tours Russell has been performing sell-out shows across the globe.
Rachel Kelly is a bestselling writer, public speaker and mental health campaigner. She writes regularly for the press and gives TV and radio interviews to help educate and break down the stigma around mental illness in her role as an ambassador for several mental health charities. She also shares evidence-based strategies on how to stay calm and well and is the author of four books covering her experience of depression and recovery and her steps to wellbeing from poetry to nutrition. Rachel speaks at events and wellbeing workshops, sharing her motivational and holistic approach to good mental health. She is an official ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness. Her books include her memoir Black Rainbow about her expression of depression and three subsequent books about her recovery and how to stay calm and well: Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness ; The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food; and Singing in the Rain: An inspirational workbook published in January 2019. She is a member of the Speakers Collective, a group of speakers with lived experience of mental health conditions.
Neil is an award-winning mental health campaigner. Neil’s career began in the fitness industry, then ten years ago he walked past Jonny Benjamin on Waterloo Bridge, who was contemplating taking his own life. Neil stopped to talk to him and persuaded him to take a step back. The pair went their separate ways and six years later they were reunited through the #FindMike campaign, which became a global news campaign reaching over 300 million people, and was later captured in the Channel 4 documentary The Stranger On The Bridge. Since then the pair have helped organisations across the world eradicate the stigma of mental health and offer real support to people facing challenges. Neil is an ambassador for Rethink Mental Illness and Mental Health UK; and co-founder of This Can Happen, and the charity Beyond Shame Beyond Stigma. Neil was given a Pride of Britain Award and has an Honorary Doctorate by Bristol University for work in mental health campaigning and advocacy.
Sathnam Sanghera is an award-winning columnist and feature writer for The Times. He has been shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards twice, for his memoir The Boy With The Topknot and his novel Marriage Material, the former being adapted by BBC Drama in 2017 and named Mind Book of the Year in 2009. He has won numerous prizes for his journalism, including Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2002 and Media Commentator of the year in the 2015 Comment Awards. He comes from Wolverhampton.
Sian Williams has been a broadcast journalist working in radio and TV for more than thirty years. She’s presented all the main BBC news bulletins, anchored BBC Breakfast for over a decade and hosted many prime time series. She’s now the head anchor of ITN’s C5 News and is also presents a weekly health show on ITV. Sian is also undergoing a Doctorate in Counselling Psychology and works as a volunteer psychologist in a London Cancer Centre. She’s already a trained trauma assessor, with a Masters in Psychology and has written extensively about mental health, including her book ‘Rise:Surviving and Thriving After Trauma.’ She has five children and lives in Kent.
Shakira Akabusi, founder of StrongLikeMum is a pre and postnatal fitness expert, speaker and Adidas run coach. Launching the StrongLikeMum campaign 3 years ago, Shakira is passionate about shattering the stereotype around ‘Mum’ and discussing the importance of mental and physical wellbeing for mothers. After struggling with OCD as a child, Shakira was diagnosed with Maternal OCD after giving birth in 2014. Now considering herself recovered, Shakira is passionate about sharing her story and highlighting the positive affects a healthy lifestyle can have on mental wellbeing. Shakira promotes whole body wellness and hopes to encourage women in feel empowered and inspired through sports.