Tackling Mental Illness, HEAD ON: A panel discussion

Arts & Culture

Join us for a panel discussion on Tackling Mental Illness HEAD ON in a supportive and positive environment organised by Jami, the Jewish mental health charity. The panel will discuss a number of themes, before opening up the discussion to a Q&A with the audience, to include:

  • The stresses of modern day living - at home and at work
  • How the reality of life and the expectations on us can affect our mental health
  • How helpful is the Jewish Community for our mental health?  Is it nurturing or does it deplete us?
  • Social norms – the realities of trying to live our own lives and carving out our own life path

We're delighted that on the panel will be Dr Charlotte BenjaminJonny Benjamin MBEDr Simon MichaelsonRabbi Danny NewmanLiz Weddle and Laurie Rackind will chair.

The discussion will start at 7.30pm and end by 9.30pm



Charlotte Benjamin is an orthodox mother of 4 children. She has been a GP partner St George's Medical Centre, Hendon for 13 years. Having been elected board member to Barnet Clinical Commissioning Group, she carries the responsibility for mental health & Learning disabilities.

This work has enabled her to be the clinical lead to drive forward a complete redesign of mental health in Barnet. This involved putting the patient genuinely at the centre of this redesign, learning the need to focus on a more holistic model of mental health. We appreciate the need to view patients as citizens, and work on a solutions focused model, rather than the traditional problems focused medical model. This has involved close working with the local mental health trust (BEHMHT), voluntary sector, including Jami, patients, carers & local authority.

The mental health team, are now seeing new patients initially in the community in GP practices. There is a developing wellbeing hub at the Meritage Centre in Hendon.

This work has won her the accolade of 'GP hero' from the GP pulse magazine in 2016, and the work has been nominated for a health sciences journal award for 2017.



Jonny Benjamin MBE is an award-winning mental health campaigner, film producer, public speaker, writer and vlogger from London.

At the age of 20 he was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of schizophrenia and bipolar, and later began making films on YouTube about the condition that have since been watched by hundreds of thousands of people.

In 2013 he presented a documentary for BBC3’s mental health season, It’s a Mad World. In 2015 he worked with Postcard Productions to produce and present Stranger on the Bridge which told the incredible story of his search for Mike, the man who saved him from taking his life by jumping off Waterloo Bridge. The film was nominated for a Grierson and Royal Television Society award and the publicity around his social media campaign #findmike raised awareness about mental health.

Jonny now speaks publicly about living with mental illness and has written articles and given various interviews on TV, Radio and in print around the world to help educate and break stigma.

In 2016 he was awarded the Jewish Care’s 'Topland Business Luncheon Award'. In the Queen’s 2017 New Year Honors List, Jonny has been awarded an MBE for his services to mental health and suicide prevention.



Simon was an NHS consultant psychiatrist for over twenty years and honorary senior lecturer at Imperial College School of Medicine. He is now a clinical skills tutor and his special interests are communication skills, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), coaching and NHS staff wellbeing.

He qualified from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine and undertook postgraduate psychiatry training in Sheffield and the Royal Free. He was a clinical research fellow at the University of Manchester, working in the then new field of quality of life measurement.

He has been heavily involved in, and passionate about, teaching and training at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. He has held posts as clinical tutor, examiner and course director for the regional psychiatry training course. He won an innovations scheme grant to set up multi professional training in clinical communication skills, was given a teaching award by Imperial College and is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

He has been an occasional advisor for radio, film and television.  Since 1990 He has been on the mental health advisory committees of Jewish Care and then Jami.



Danny works as a Rabbi at Finchley Reform Shul. He grew up and was educated in a traditional orthodox community and went to Haberdashers’ Aske’s School from the ages of 7 to 18. After spending his gap year in Israel on the Machon programme with the youth movement BBYO, he read Jewish Studies at Oxford University and was then elected Chairman of the National Union of Jewish Students. Prior to beginning his rabbinic studies, he spent time studying at Yeshivat Ein Tzurim in Israel, training in integrative psychotherapy at Regent’s College and working as a corporate lawyer in the City of London.

He is the founder of HaMakom, an organisation committed to wellbeing, wisdom and awakening, and which organises Jewish mindfulness meditation retreats. He received his semicha (rabbinic ordination) from Leo Baeck College in July 2017 and is a student of Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, the founder of the Jewish Renewal movement.



Laurie was appointed Jami’s first Chief Executive in 2007. He graduated from Warwick with a degree in Engineering & Business Studies and, after spending 5 years in Financial Modelling at the London Business School, Laurie went on to spend 13 years with his own specialist engineering company serving the Process Industries.

Since 2007, Jami has undergone significant growth and development and a shift in services to focus on mental health recovery - and outcome-based provisions. Laurie has a keen interest in impact measurement and this is reflected in Jami’s operations.

Under Laurie’s direction, Jami has developed various partnership and collaborative initiatives, most notably and recently with the creation of a single mental health service for the Jewish community in London and the South East with Jewish Care.



After working in a variety of Secondary School settings during her career, Liz has been pastoral Deputy Headteacher at JCOSS, the only pluralist Jewish secondary school in the UK, for the past 4 years. Her role includes leading on safeguarding, student wellbeing and behaviour and she regularly liaises with a range of professionals including those from mental health, police and social care settings. Her aim is to mesh consistency, rigour and compassion in terms of the pastoral support available in the school in order to ensure that the barriers which might inhibit students’ wellbeing and learning are broken down, wherever they come from.

Inspired by the response of another school in the south of the country who had put together a preventative programme in order to address wellbeing concerns, Liz has since worked with Jami to establish Headroom @JCoSS. This represents a cutting edge collaboration between a mental health charity and a school setting.


This event has been organised in partnership with 




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