20 Mental Health Leaders Promoting Wellbeing

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For Mental Health Week, Positive News collated a list of 20 people who are promoting wellbeing in a variety of different ways, from apps to community support. Discover these influential people and their projects and how they can Aspire Wellbeing.

Bryony Gordon – in 2016, Bryony launched Mental Health Mates. From her own experience of obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia, addiction and depression, she understood the power of peer support. Mental Health Mates bring people who experience mental health issues together, in real life and online, to provide each other with a support network. They meet regularly to walk, connect and share without judgement.

Keisha York – during her training as a psychologist, Keisha realised that ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in the areas of psychiatry and psychology and that this lack of cultural diversity can negatively affect both professionals and those accessing services. Keisha created the Black and Minority Ethnics in Psychiatry and Psychology (BiPP) network to prioritise and advance the representation of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds within psychiatry and psychology.

Joe Harkness – while experiencing poor mental health resulting in him contemplating suicide, Joe found that medication and counselling helped, but being in nature was what made a difference. He started a blog, Bird Therapy, in 2015 and went on to write a book about the benefits of birdwatching for mental health.

Isabel Hardman – another advocate for the benefits of spending time outdoors, Isabel, a political journalist, has written a book, The Natural Health Service: How Nature Can Mend Your Mind. She was inspired to write the book after opening up about a breakdown she had after suffering from PTSD.

Shuranjeet Singh – while studying at university, Shuranjeet experienced mental health difficulties and he benefited from the support of his university. He felt lucky to have received this support but found that within the Punjabi community, many who suffered similar challenges, there wasn’t access to sufficient support. He created Taraki to work with Punjabi communities to reshape approaches to mental health.

Mark Williamson – as the founder of Action for Happiness, he encourages people to take practical action to build a happier society. The organisation has hundreds of thousands of members who take part in events and form local groups and even create local “Happy Cafe”. There is a free 10 Days of Happiness programme, and an app, which offers daily happiness ‘nudges’.

Nadiya Hussain – as the nation watched her bake her way to the final of The Great British Bake-off and win the title, what they didn’t see was the extreme anxiety and debilitating panic attacks, challenges she has faced since childhood. Nadiya has used her platform to open up about her mental health issues, and filmed her treatment for a documentary Nadiya: Anxiety and Me, hoping to reduce stigma and help others.

Simon Gunning – every week 125 people in the UK commit suicide and 75% of all suicides are male. This is what drove Simon to create the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). CALM runs a helpline and webchat service as well as running a website with an abundance of helpful articles and support.

Dr Radha Modgil – as well as being an NHS GP, broadcaster and wellbeing campaigner, Dr. Modgill is also the leading champion of social prescribing. Social proscribing utilises the power of art, sports, nature and music to promote mental health and wellbeing. Dr. Morgil launched a social media campaign, #OneGoodThing, to share tips for activities in local communities that can boost people’s wellbeing.

Nathan Jones – served in Afghanistan, where he saved the lives of colleagues in an aircraft disaster, which also left him with devastating injuries. His experiences drove him to create HeadFIT, a mental fitness website endorsed by Prince Harry, which aims to help defence people stay mentally fit.

Emma Thomas – the awareness of mental health has increased in recent years but for young people, support can be difficult to access. Emma, as the chief executive of the charity Young Minds, is helping to support children and young people’s mental health. The charity runs a helpline and a website.

Mike Jenn – following the success of the men’s shed movement in Australia, which aims to tackle loneliness in older men, Mike brought the movement to the UK. The UK’s Men’s Sheds Association offers community spaces for men to connect, converse and create.

Alex Holmes – after finding it hard to open up about his own mental health, Alex created the podcast Time to Talk With Alex Holmes. He has also developed practical tools to help men with their mental health and released a book, Time to Talk: How Men Think About Love, Belonging and Connection.

Sara Campin – it is estimated that 1 in 5 new mothers will experience mental health problems, often not severe enough to receive tailored support from the NHS. Many like Sara are left feeling alone. In response to her experiences, Sara developed the App Nourish, which aims to provide tools for mother’s to help support them through the highs and lows of parenting.

Beth Ingram – as the founder of Hearts and Minds, Beth heads up the only peer-led charity supporting young people with mental health challenges. The charity is a community of young people with lived experience of mental health issues, helping and supporting other young people.

Craig Foster – the South African documentary filmmaker hit the headlines after the success of his Netflix documentary, My Octopus Teacher, which tells the story of his unusual bond with a wild octopus and how it helped him emotionally. Craig is also the founder of the Sea Change Project.

Akiko Hart – drawing on her own experience of trauma, depression and intrusive thoughts, Akiko heads up the National Survivor User Network, a network of 5000+ individuals and groups who have survived trauma and aim to change things for the better.

Poorna Bell – following the loss of her husband to suicide, an essay she wrote on her experience went viral, leading Poorna to become a mental health campaigner and to raise awareness. Her latest book, Stronger, looks at the mental and physical empowerment of women.

Agnes Mwakatuma – following the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, Agnes created the Black Minds Matter UK charity. The organisation aims to provide black individuals and their families access to free mental health services run by professional black therapists.

Brendan Maher – Movember, growing of moustaches during November, has become a global campaign. The movement is currently headed up by Brendan, whose aim is to change the face of men’s health including improving mental health and suicide prevention.