Alumnus nominated for Pride of Merseyside awardFriday 28 August 2015
Comedian and Liverpool Hope University alumnus Jake Mills has been named in the Pride of Merseyside honours list.
The former media student, who graduated in 2011, is nominated for the Echo Newspaper’s Courage Award for his work to promote a better understanding of mental health.
Jake founded the national charity Chasing the Stigma after experiencing his own battle with depression, which led to a suicide attempt in 2013. The Courage Award recognises people who have shown outstanding bravery and courage, whether in a single heroic act or through battling disability, illness or adversity.
Here Jake talks about how it feels to be nominated and his hopes for the future:
What have you been focusing on since graduating from Hope?
I’m still performing comedy across the country as well as doing a lot of writing, but launching this mental health charity has taken much of my focus this year. I’ve been speaking to universities, emergency services, politicians and mental health workers - basically not shutting up until a real genuine change is forced. By speaking openly about my own experiences I want to show people that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I want to try and encourage people to accept their own problems, to understand what mental illness is, and to know it’s not their fault. I want to give people hope that there is a way through it, if I made it through, they can too.
What does the recognition mean to you?
I’m very grateful for the nomination, but I don't feel like I am doing anything particularly brave or courageous. I’m just a normal guy talking about not being well once. I was shocked by the amount of people who told me they were helped by hearing my story, and I still am. Once I realised the importance of speaking out, as well as how poor the support and services are, I decided I couldn't let it lay. I’m just doing what I believe to be right and I will continue to do that.
What’s next for you?
Chasing the Stigma is about to launch a national appeal to bring all mental health services together in one place. By creating a Hub of Hope, I aim to remove the barriers of getting help and bring groups and organisations that can offer support together in one place. Regardless of size, it's vital that we promote the good help that is available. Any group that offers mental health support can register to be listed on the Hub of Hope.