A number of leading figures in mental health services have been rewarded with gongs in the New Year’s Honours list, along with several people who work at grassroots level.
Among those to receive OBEs were Sue Baker (pictured), director of mental health anti-stigma campaign group Time to Change, for services to mental health, and Sarah Brennan, chief executive of mental health charity Youngminds, for services to children and young people's mental health. YoungMinds’ chair of trustees, Dr Carole Easton, was also given an OBE.
Suicide awareness campaigner Johnny Benjamin – whose story of how he managed to track down a stranger who stopped him from taking his own life six years ago was turned into a documentary film in 2014 – received an MBE for services to national campaigning on awareness of suicide and mental illness.
In addition, Kamaldeep Bhui, professor of cultural psychiatry and epidemiology at Queen Mary University of London – and who has written for Mental Health Today in the past – received a CBE for services to mental health research and care.
Others from the field of mental health to receive awards included:
• Derek McClure received a CBE for services to mental healthcare and people with learning disabilities
• Christine Craik, director of occupational therapy at Brunel University, received an OBE for services to occupational therapy, particularly mental health services and education
• Richard Guy received an OBE for services to justice, mental health support and the community in Cambridgeshire
• Jacqueline Dyer, vice chair of the Mental Health Taskforce, received an MBE for services to mental health
• Professor Miranda Wolpert, founder of the Evidence Based Practice Unit, AFNCCF and UCL and co-founder of the Child Outcomes Research Consortium, received an MBE for services to child and adolescent mental healthcare
• Ann McGarrigle was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire for services to mental health and the bereaved in Northern Ireland
• Pamela Preston, a volunteer with the Samaritans was also made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire for services to mental health in the West Midlands
• Katrina Whittaker was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire for services to people affected by mental health difficulties
• Devan Witter, founder of the Devan Group in East Yorkshire, was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire for services to children’s mental healthcare and wellbeing.
Brennan said: “I am delighted at this recognition of the crucial importance of addressing the mental health needs of children and young people. It is a huge honour for Carole and me to work alongside dedicated young people and parents, who campaign tirelessly to raise awareness and to improve services.”
Rethink Mental Illness’ chief executive, Mark Winstanley, said he was “thrilled” that Sue Baker had been recognised. “I’ve witnessed the vital role she plays in delivering a real change in society’s perception of people with mental illness, reducing stigma and normalising discussions about mental health,” he said. “She has literally helped to change our country for the better and in doing so improved the lives of many people.”