Here are our fabulous five mental health heroes to watch out for in 2019 – people demonstrating courage, making outstanding progress, and doing it on behalf of others
1. Poorna Bell
Possessing a burning ambition to explore society’s endemic issues, journalist Poorna Bell is a mental health advocate in Britain and overseas. She became a widow in 2015, after her husband Rob took his life, having battled depression and addiction.
She released her book, Chase The Rainbow, soon after, to critical acclaim. It tells Rob’s story, interspersed with Poorna’s incredible insight and urge to help men struggling with mental ill-health. She continues to campaign for an end to the stigma and silence surrounding our mental health, powerfully using both the spoken and written word.
Poorna has put pen to paper again with In Search of Silence, out in May. It is described as a heartfelt, personal journey which asks us all to define what happiness really means.
2. Jordan Stephens
One-half of the hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks, Jordan Stephens has been a MH hero since 2016 when he became a founding ambassador of #IAMWHOLE – an anti-stigma mental health campaign in partnership with the NHS and YMCA.
Jordan has gone on to host the fundraising concert Music 4 Mental Health in November 2018, and continues to be open about his own experiences and his visions for solutions.
3. Jake Tyler
It started out as a simple dog walk, that turned into a nationwide trek. In 2017, Jake racked up 3,000 miles with his mental health advocacy.
Jake’s effort on the BBC’s Mind Over Marathon inspired millions. And a podcast, People Are F---ing Awesome, soon followed.
There’s no letting up in 2019: Jake is now hosting his Open Up show on BBC Radio Sussex, inviting guests, and indeed you and me, on to talk about our mental health.
4. Natasha Devon
Writer, speaker, campaigner. Natasha Devon is a whirlwind of energy, touring schools and colleges throughout the land. She tops that up by championing body image, gender and social equality. Her desire to get to the heart of mental health issues means she’s conducting her own research, leading reform campaigns.
Whether this is creating a Mental Health Media Charter, or her Where’s Your Head At? campaign, Natasha’s desire to effect change remains undiminished.
She is equally at home addressing parliament, batting on behalf of teenagers and teachers, or penning articles and books. As a patron, member and ambassador for charities across the country, you can be sure to hear Natasha banging the drums for mental health in 2019.
Yes, you! Thanks to you and your hard work, we now have a government minister for mental health and suicide prevention, record levels of engagement in awareness days and campaigns, along with schools and employers reforming their approach to mental health.
Each and everyone of you, our trusted readers, is a mental health hero.
Without your contribution, progress would undoubtedly be hindered.
Don’t underestimate your contribution to mental health in 2019: you can make a difference.