Kiwis claim TheMHS awards

2 Sep, 2015

chrisb janetpKiwi compatriots Chris Barton and Janet Peters are celebrating after wins at TheMHS Awards following a special ceremony in Canberra last week.

“I’m a real worker bee but I’m not the face of anything so I’m really chuffed that people have still noticed what I’ve done,” says Janet, a psychologist, researcher and policy advisor.

“We’ve made great strides and New Zealand is a leader in terms of the innovative ways we’ve taken to reduce mental health discrimination and promote awareness about depression. But we’ve still got lots to do and I’m still passionately playing my part,” she says.

Janet is a joint winner of the award for Exceptional Contribution to Mental Health Service in Australia or New Zealand.

The award recognises people who have a wide sphere of influence and make an outstanding contribution to mental health service delivery.

She has worked in mental health for more than 30 years with the likes of the Mental Health Foundation, the Office of the Health and Disability Commissioner, Ministry of Health and Health Research Council, as well as quietly leading significant behind the scenes work in many areas, including:

  • The Like Minds, Like Mine campaign,
  • The National Depression Initiative and The Lowdown,
  • Talking Therapies,
  • The International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership.

Janet's own experience as a child of parents with mental health problems, also led her to write Jemma’s Journey, a book for children who have a parent with mental distress.

Kiwi journalist a winner

Meanwhile, Chris Barton, a freelance writer with 28 years’ experience, is named category winner for text journalism in the media section of TheMHS Awards.

The awards encourage accurate and sensitive coverage of mental health issues, to break down stigma and to educate the community about mental health.

His 12-page special feature “Speaking out about Suicide” was published in North & South in July 2014, and is accompanied by a website with full personal accounts and videos.

The project was completed with the assistance of a NZ Mental Health Media Grant awarded by the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand and the Frozen Funds Charitable Trust.

Chris is honoured to receive this award and the support that enabled him to publish the project.

”These days journalists just don't get the time to research, travel and talk to people in the way the media grant enabled me to,” he says.

North and South editor Virginia Larson was also supportive – but above all I’d like to thank the 10 people who agreed to tell their stories. Their courage and determination to speak out against the stigma of suicide was truly inspirational.”

Chris has won numerous awards for his writing, has a Master’s of Architecture, teaches architecture part time, and is the architecture critic for Metro. He continues to write about disability and mental health issues as a freelancer.