Mental health campaigner from St Neots shortlisted for TV award

man smiling while looking in the distance

Joe Plumb, 24, is using his experience to help others during their mental health challenges - Credit: Joe Plumb

A mental health campaigner from St Neots has been shortlisted for The Sun’s Who Cares Wins award.

Joe Plumb, 24, was nominated following his work and dedication to improving the mental health system, raising awareness and implementing greater education of the topic into the school curriculum. From a young age, Joe was bullied, assaulted and isolated at school.

“My school life was a shambles,” he said. “There was very little support, and as I got older the bullying got worse and my mental health deteriorated further. I tried to take my own life numerous times, I was put into a psychiatric unit – in-and-out for three years – so it was a tough ride!”

At the age of 13, Joe found sanctuary by volunteering at a youth café, which was a safe place for young people to visit and talk to one another.

He said: “From there, I received new opportunities and worked with various organisations, such as the British Medical Association and the Home Office, but people still didn’t want to open up and talk about their mental health issues.

“Social media was an incredibly powerful tool; I used the platform to share what I was going through, raising awareness and encouraging others to talk about their challenges because people were losing their lives by not doing so.”

Determined, Joe started a campaign called Stand Up, Speak Out, which went global, thanks to the support of Richard Branson, James Arthur and Sinitta Malone.

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A mixture of television and radio appearances, along with national awards, were also vital in his ambitions.

“I was this kid that nobody wanted to know, then, all of a sudden, became someone that people took interest in and could relate to,” Joe commented.

“I have a drive to improve mental health education in schools; not only do I think it’s important people understand it’s OK to talk, but it would help cut the bullying and isolation, because people would begin to understand and show compassion.”

The awards ceremony will be shown on Channel 4 in September.