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Psychosis: A journey of hope and discovery

6 June 2017

Portrait of Jonny Benjamin

Award-winning mental health campaigners Jonny Benjamin and Neil Laybourn will be giving a public talk at Cardiff University on Thursday 22nd June as part of the Medical Research Council’s Festival of Medical Research.

The duo, who came to prominence following Channel 4’s Stranger on a Bridge documentary, will share the extraordinary story of how a global social media campaign helped Jonny find the man who talked him down from London’s Waterloo Bridge.

Shifting the spotlight to research, Neil and Jonny will interview Dr James Walters, a Reader at the University’s MRC Centre, on the latest studies into psychosis and the role of psychiatric genetics.

Changing outdated attitudes

“Research is vital if we’re ever to see better treatments for people affected by mental illness, and I think there are some cultural attitudes that are unhelpful in influencing how people perceive this research, particularly in genetics,” said Jonny, who was awarded an MBE for services to mental health and suicide prevention earlier this year.

He added: “Having the opportunity to discuss this research with scientists in the open can be really beneficial in changing some of these outdated attitudes.”

Neil and Jonny will also discuss their campaigning work, which includes fundraising for the Heads Together campaign, improving mental health education in schools and calling for better services for those affected by mental illness.

Dr James Walters said: “There is currently momentum and motivation to address the ways in which mental illness is stigmatised and underfunded in both health and research settings...”

“For things to change we need powerful and sustained advocates for mental healthcare and research. Jonny and Neil lead the way in this effort and their story is truly inspirational.”

Professor James Walters Director, Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics; Deputy Director/Professor, Division of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences

The talks will take place on Thursday 22nd June, from 6.30pm at Cardiff University’s flagship Hadyn Ellis Building. Book a free space here.

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Developments in neuroscience and mental health research mean that we take another step closer to solving the mysteries lying behind psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.