Calvary Christian College graduate Madison Birtchnell wins Mental Health Week Achievement Award

CALVARY Christian College graduate Madison Birtchnell was the youth category winner at the Queensland Mental Health Week Achievement Awards.

The winners were announced at a ceremony at Brisbane City Hall on Friday.

Ms Birtchnell has been involved in efforts to reduce stigma, while providing support and empowering people living with mental illness.

She said that every person should be valued, respected and included and that people should always show another person kindness and understanding.

“I hope to be able to inspire more young people to speak up about their mental health,” Ms Birtchnell said.

Capalaba-based Bayside Initiatives Group (BIG) was nominated for the Not-For-Profit Award in the category for organisations that have up to 100 staff members. 

Author of Challenging the Black Dog Verity Cast, of Russell Island, was a finalist in the Jude Bujega Peer Experience Award. The book is described as a creative and lived experience journal written for young adults aged 15 to 25 dealing with depression.

Simon James, chief executive of Open Minds, which hosts the awards, said events such as the awards marked an important moment to focus attention on inspirational achievers and recognised the innovative work they did.

“It’s the type of work that drives the sector forward,” Mr James said.

Open Minds board chairman Paul Mazerolle said the awards theme of It’s your time to shine was fitting as the event celebrated the often unsung heroes in mental health who were working tirelessly to reduce stigma and support and empower those living with mental illness.

“The awards provide us all with a chance to pause, reflect and acknowledge our own and each other’s hard work,” Mr Mazerolle siad.

Queensland mental health commissioner Ivan Frkovic said there had been 290 registered events during mental health week, marking the largest mental health week in the country, and Open Minds had received the most nominations ever.

“This demonstrates that the people of Queensland are valuing their mental health and wellbeing, and that the work that’s being done in this sector is valued,” Mr Frkovic said.