A Wolverhampton community worker has carried off the top award at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards.
Gurbax Kaur was named the region’s Mental Health Superstar at the event, which took place at West Bromwich Albion FC and was attended by Mayor for the West Midlands Andy Street and prominent mental health campaigner Norman Lamb MP.
Last night's (Jan 31) awards, hosted by broadcaster Adrian Goldberg, marked the first year’s achievements of the WMCA’s Thrive Programme and recognised individuals who have made a real difference to others’ lives.
Regional Mental Health Superstar Gurbax Kaur with fellow winners and speakers, including Norman Lamb MP and Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street at the Thrive Mental Health Commission Awards 2018
Gurbax was honoured for her commitment to raising awareness of mental health issues, particularly among the city’s South Asian community, where mental health can be considered a taboo subject.
As the founder of Positive Participation, Gurbax works tirelessly within the community to provide specialist support to the most vulnerable, as well as advocating for the importance of local mental health services.
After being presented with her award by Mr Lamb, Gurbax said: “I’m really honoured that people think my work is worthwhile. It’s about tackling the stigma in groups that are perceived as hard to reach.
“It can be difficult to challenge some beliefs and that journey has only just started for us in Wolverhampton but I’m just so inspired now to carry on.”
The inaugural awards were staged by the WMCA to celebrate outstanding work in the field of mental health and to promote positive attitudes.
The event was also a chance to mark the achievements of the first year of the Thrive West Midlands programme which was set up to drive better mental health and wellbeing across the region.
More than 200 people, many with a wealth of professional and personal experience of mental health issues, were welcomed to the awards by the Mayor.
“The mental health agenda is a top priority for the WMCA and the Thrive programme has already made astonishing progress in just this first year,” he said.
“I am immensely proud of the work that has been undertaken so far and I look forward to continuing my support as we strive to improve the impact that poor mental health has within our communities and within our workspaces.”
Mr Lamb, Liberal Democrat health spokesperson, described the event as a major milestone for the region which had now joined cities such as New York, Toronto and Sydney at the forefront of addressing mental health issues.
The former care and support minister also chaired the WMCA’s Mental Health Commission.
The awards saw nominations from across the whole WMCA region and a Mental Health Star was chosen from each area.
People could nominate anyone they felt had made a real difference to improving mental health – either their own or in the community.
It could be a friend, family member, colleague or carer, GP, health professional or volunteer.
Sean Russell, Thrive implementation director, said: “It has been a real celebration of all sorts of people’s work to help others and of all the many and varied efforts we see going into improving mental health outcomes in our region.
“We have been delighted with the response to these awards, with nearly 200 nominations for people from all walks of life.
“The winners really are amazing examples of the depth of dedication to this cause – and their wealth of creative ideas.”