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Mental health nurse Alex Cotton lands prestigious award

Balls to talk thrive award

On 31 January, Alex landed the Coventry Mental Health Star award, in the West Midlands Mental Health Commission Thrive Awards.

Alex is the driving force behind the successful and innovative ‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ campaign, which targets men at sports events in Coventry and Warwickshire.

Since its launch in 2016, project volunteers have attended a range of sporting events across Coventry and Warwickshire, and the campaign has gained active support from a wide range of organisations including Coventry City Football Club and Wasps Rugby Club.

The campaign works to break down the barriers that can prevent men seeking support with their mental health, and to build positive community links to help people, particularly men, look after their own mental health.

‘It Takes Balls to Talk’ is an innovative partnership between Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and Coventry and Warwickshire Mind.

Alex’s Trust colleagues Tariro Gumbo and Stacy Cooper were also shortlisted for awards on the night.

Tariro co-ordinates a volunteer scheme to help people with mental illness in Coventry and Warwickshire, and Stacy helps manage the Recovery and Wellbeing Academy, which runs courses focused on empowerment, personal recovery and wellbeing.

The Commission was established by West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street to highlight work going on to combat mental illness across the county.

In January 2017, the Mental Health Commission published the Thrive West Midlands action plan on mental health, aiming to reduce the impact of poor mental health across the region and ensure that mental health services work well for everyone.

The West Midlands Mental Health Commission Thrive Awards marked the first year of the Thrive West Midlands programme by celebrating the ground-breaking work being done across the region to improve mental health and wellbeing.

Alex said: “It’s great to win any award, and to get recognition from the West Midlands Mayor like this is truly inspiring. But this is about the work of everyone who has supported ‘It takes balls to talk’, including the volunteers, staff and spectators at sports events.”

Simon Gilby, Chief Executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust, said: “All the award winners on the night had remarkable stories to tell, and it was a great celebration of excellent work across the region to combat mental ill-health. Alex fully deserved this recognition, and with her continued drive and dedication, I believe the ‘It takes balls to talk’ campaign will continue to go from strength to strength.”

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