Jonny Benjamin MBE

Jonny Benjamin is a mental health campaigner, author and vlogger. He’s passionate, like us, about helping to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

A few years ago, he appeared in a documentary showing the journey he made to find the stranger who saved his life.

His autobiography, “The Stranger On The Bridge: My journey from despair to Hope” which was released in May 2018. The book contains extracts from Jonny’s personal diaries, letters and poems as well as a contribution from Neil Laybourn, the man who stopped Jonny from taking his own life in 2008.

His second book will be entitled “The Book Of Hope” and is set to be published later on this year.

Here, Jonny explains how a simple message from his brother helped to give him hope during a dark time.

This piece was originally published on the Time to Change blog page in 2014.

I never realised just how much of an impact a single text could have before I received one from my brother when I was unwell a few years ago.

I was in hospital at the time having treatment for schizoaffective disorder when the text came through. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was experiencing, least of all my brother. This was my older brother, the person I looked up to growing up. I didn’t want him to think of me as being so unwell.  

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.  

My brother always used to sing the classic Hollies song, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” when I was younger. I wasn’t really aware of the lyrics at the time but in recent years I’ve realised just how powerful they are: 

“I’m strong, 

Strong enough to carry him, 

He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

His welfare is my concern, 

No burden is he to bear, 

We’ll get there.” 

Sorry that you’re suffering. I’m thinking of you. 

I always get a lump in my throat whenever I hear that song played now. So too when I think back to that text he sent me. It wasn’t a particularly long text but it’s few words have remained with me ever since: 

“Sorry that you’re suffering. It’s so tough isn’t it. Thinking of you. You’ll get there bruv x” 

Me and my brother have always been renowned for winding each other up and taking the mick out of one another. (Much to our Mum’s disapproval!) The messages we send between us are no different. So to receive such a heartfelt, caring message from my brother was both unexpected and deeply touching. The message was also a gateway that allowed me to open up to him about what I was going through. It felt like not only did he seem to understand, but that there was also no judgement there at all. 

Our relationship only strengthened after that text. We still wind each other up no end of course, but I know I can always count on, and talk to my brother when I’m going through a bad period of mental health.

A simple message can be so powerful.

From that day I’ve never underestimated just how powerful a simple message can actually be when someone is struggling. Just that simple act of letting a person know you are thinking of them can truly make all the difference. 
For more information about Jon’s campaign, visit his website:

© 2019 Sibling Link Registered CIC No. 11322031

Designed & developed by Osomi

Share This