Search is launched for this year’s unsung mental health heroes

The search is on for unsung heroes across the region, as nominations open for the West Midlands Mental Health Star 2022 awards.

Organised by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), the awards aim to celebrate people who are making a real difference in the mental health of others as well as recognising those that have made a significant contribution to improving mental health and wellbeing across their community.

Nominations are invited from across the WMCA region and anyone can suggest an individual or organisation they believe are making a positive impact. This could be a friend, relative or work colleague, a carer, GP or health professional, or someone representing a company or volunteer group.

Search is launched for this year’s unsung mental health heroes

Sophia Badhan and Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, at the 2020 West Midlands Mental Health Star awards ceremony.

This year’s awards are linked to the WMCA’s new Mental Health Commission, whose remit includes highlighting examples of innovation and good practice in mental health.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said, “After an incredibly difficult period for so many due to the pandemic, addressing mental health issues has never been more important.

“That’s why I am really pleased to be bringing our Mental Health Star Awards back, and I look forward to hearing positive stories from across the West Midlands of the fantastic and selfless work people have done to help others.

“Not only do these awards give us the opportunity to shine a light on unsung heroes that have helped others throughout our region, but they also help highlight the ongoing issues surrounding mental health and wellbeing, and what more needs to be done to address them.”

At the previous awards ceremony in 2020, Sophia Badhan won the top award of West Midlands Thrive Mental Health Superstar for working tirelessly to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health, following her own battle with anorexia.

She took the time to visit schools across the West Midlands to encourage positive talk around mental health as well as working with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust to improve the involvement of young people in their own care.

Currently studying European Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen, the teenager, originally from Sutton Coldfield, is also part of the mental health youth board Think 4 Brum, where she has led the development of a Self-Isolation Survival Guide, offering practical advice and tips to help young people with pre-existing mental health conditions stay positive during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Speaking on the opening up of nominations for 2022, Sophia said, "After struggling with mental health issues myself, I understand how important it is to give credit to all of the amazing charities, services, and people out there who are making a positive difference in people's lives every single day.

"Winning the award in 2020 meant everything to me and if anyone thinks that others have also deserved recognition for their hard work in improving mental health, I strongly encourage them to nominate."

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, leader of Warwickshire County Council and portfolio lead for wellbeing at WMCA, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate people across the WMCA who are providing vital support to others.

“This award is perfect for a person or group, tirelessly and quietly doing their bit for their local community.”

People can nominate more than one individual, team, service, or organisation for an award and all nominees will be invited to an awards ceremony on Wednesday March 23, the anniversary of the first lockdown in England. The ceremony will take place online to ensure it is as accessible as possible.

The closing date for nominations is Sunday January 23, 2022 at 23.59pm.

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