To mark World Mental Health Day (October 10), the spotlight is being turned on the region’s unsung heroes who have made a difference to the lives of people with mental health issues.
The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) is looking for nominations for 12 categories in the third annual Thrive awards, celebrating ground-breaking work to improve mental health.
Judges will be looking for nominees who really listen to and understand what is important to people who suffer mental illness and go the extra mile to make a difference to individuals or communities.
Thrive award winners 2019 Laura Fogarty (left) and Laura Gee
They could be a friend, relative, work colleague, carer or health professional, an individual or someone representing a group or company.
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, WMCA portfolio holder for wellbeing and leader of Warwickshire County Council, said: “There are so many unsung heroes out there working tirelessly to make people’s lives better and they deserve recognition. They might be a manager who has gone above and beyond to promote mental health and wellbeing of their employees or someone who has made a difference through inclusive sport and physical activity.
“In recognition of the work of the late Cariss Evans in Sandwell, we are looking for nominations of people who have shown innovative and creative mental health support in the community for children and their families to receive a new award.”
Last year’s winners included organisations like Bedazzle, working with vulnerable pupils in Black Country schools and the Bright Star Boxing Academy, making a difference to young people affected by depression, anxiety, offending behaviour and substance abuse in Shifnal.
Suicide prevention is the theme of World Mental Health Day and last year’s West Midlands Thrive Superstar was Caleb Turner, who had the empathy and presence of mind to successfully talk a school friend out of taking his own life.
Mental health first aid trainer, RAF veteran Gary Peake, working with ex-service personnel around The Potteries, said his award had given him a massive confidence boost and impetus to extend his work and is even one of this year’s Thrive Awards judges.
Third year Birmingham City University psychology student Laura Gee, who runs a WhatsApp group, co-ordinating 200 voluntary student mental health first aiders with fellow student Laura Fogarty within their faculty, is busy sharing details of the awards though social media.
She said: “I’m encouraging everyone I can to enter the awards because they made such a difference to us by opening so many fantastic doors, enabling us to reach more people and we are so excited now that the university wants to expand our project across the whole university.”
People are urged to find out more and nominate someone for a Mental Health Star award at www.wmca.org.uk/thriveawards by Sunday November 3.