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Dr. Nicola Byrom has won the the Queen’s Young Leader Award, which aims to recognise exceptional people who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Student Minds has firmly taken a lead in improving the state of mental health among the higher education community in the UK. Nicola founded Student Minds in 2009 with the aim of using peer interventions to improve the state of student mental health. Today, the charity delivers research-driven training and support to equip students to bring about positive change on their campuses through campaigning and facilitating peer support programmes. Student Minds encourages students to take action to foster an environment where everyone has the confidence to talk and listen to each other, the skills to support one another and the knowledge to look after their own mental health.

The Queen’s Young Leader Award

The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme is a unique initiative established by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and The Royal Commonwealth Society, in recognition of the 60 years the Queen had served as Head of the Commonwealth.

Sir John Major, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust said: “We wish to identify and nurture the talent of the younger generation across the Commonwealth. We’re inspired by the belief that one talented individual can be a positive force for good within their communities.”

Founding Director of Student Minds

Dr. Nicola Byrom is a lecturer in psychology at Somerville College, Oxford University, where she conducts research into cognitive risk factors for depression and other mental health difficulties. Nicola experienced mental health difficulties as a teenager. She also supported friends and family through mental health difficulties, motivating her to try to make it easier for other young people to face mental health difficulties.

Nicola said “While I know my own recovery from Anorexia Nervosa was aided dramatically by an amazing therapist, my friends and family played a powerful role in supporting me through recovery. I believe that social support is vital for good mental health. We can all play a role in supporting our peers when they face difficulties. The focus of Student Minds is to give all students the skills and confidence to talk about mental health, so that young people feel comfortable being there to support friends through difficulties.”

Miss Rosanna Hardwick, Charity Manager, said “I’m thrilled that Nicola’s work has been recognised by the Queen’s Young Leader Award. Nicola’s own experience of supporting and being supported by friends is echoed by university students across the country. We know that students experiencing mental health difficulties are most likely to turn to their friends for support. At Student Minds we work to ensure that students have the skills to feel confident supporting their friends and peers.”