Mental health heroes

Ella Rhodes reports on the Deputy Prime Minister's reception.

February saw psychology research associate and psychosis expert Dr Eleanor Longden (Liverpool University) invited to attend the Deputy Prime Minister’s Mental Health Heroes Awards at Whitehall. The reception was organised by Nick Clegg to recognise individuals who have helped, supported or inspired those with mental health difficulties. It was held to mark Time to Change’s ‘Time to Talk’ initiative, which encourages people to challenge stigma and speak out about mental health issues.

Other attendees included Professor Louis Appleby, Norman Lamb, and television personalities Fiona Phillips and Denise Welch. When addressing the audience, Mr Clegg emphasised the ‘Cinderella status’ of mental health research and clinical input in comparison to other healthcare branches. He stated that psychiatric treatment must be placed on the same level as physical health, and that taboos surrounding mental health issues must end.

Whilst at the ceremony, Dr Longden discussed some of the work being carried out at Liverpool University’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society. This included contributions from herself, Professor Peter Kinderman, Professor Richard Bentall, and the recent head of Liverpool’s clinical psychology programme, Professor John Read, to the recent BPS report Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.

Among the 10 regional winners were Kai Moore, a former Youth MP for West Sussex who started the ‘Free Your Mind’ campaign two years ago; Debbie Humberstone, founder and coordinator of The Project, a charity in Devon that supports young people with mental health issues; and Becki Luscombe, a mental health campaigner who was given her award posthumously.

Longden was nominated on the basis of her academic and media work in highlighting the psychosocial causes of mental health difficulties (see her article in The Psychologist, August 2013: tinyurl.com/n4y5t7h), as well as public discussion of her own experiences of trauma and psychosis, particularly her 2013 TED talk, ‘The Voices in My Head’ (see the video at tinyurl.com/tedlongd), which has been viewed nearly three million times, been translated into 34 languages, and was named by The Guardian newspaper as ‘One of the 20 Online Talks That Could Change Your Life’. er

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