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Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards 2021

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2021 nominations now open

Celebrating the extraordinary women who are helping improve the mental wellbeing of others. Nominations now open!

In recognition of International Women’s Day on 8 March 2021, Blackmores is calling for nominations for the 2021 Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Awards.

There’s $10,000 in total prize money to be won, with winners invited to participate in a community leadership mentoring program tailored to women championing for positive change.

 

Nominate now

About the awards

Named after Blackmores trailblazer Sister Mercie Whellan, the Blackmores Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing awards celebrate women across Australia who have made an outstanding contribution to their local community by improving the mental health and wellbeing of others.

As Australia’s leading natural health company, Blackmores takes a holistic wellness approach that recognises the importance of both a healthy body and a healthy mind.

Support for mental health and emotional wellbeing is an area of great need in today’s world with growing concerns about managing stress, anxiety and depression. 2020 was a year like no other, with the global COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we live, work and socially interact with others.

The 2021 International Women’s Day (IWD) theme is “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, and at Blackmores we want to celebrate IWD by acknowledging women across Australia who have shown outstanding leadership in supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Blackmores runs this award annually in partnership with CCNB, trusted advisors in community health, aged care and disability. Community organisations like CCNB play an essential role in supporting physical, mental, social and emotional wellbeing, helping to ensure that everyone can live their life to the fullest. 

Please nominate the extraordinary women you know who going above and beyond to support the mental health and wellbeing of others.

 

Nominate now

Categories

There are two award categories, Open (ages 22+) and Youth (ages 15-22), for work achieved in Australia including but not limited to:

  • Service – leading innovative community programs that improve mental health or emotional wellbeing.
  • Advocacy – educating the community about the prevalence of mental health and wellbeing, challenging the stigma associated with mental health conditions and advocating for change.
  • Support – supporting those living with mental health and wellbeing conditions and supporting the community and/or individuals dealing with change or challenging circumstances such as the Australian bushfire season and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judging and prizes

Five finalists will be shortlisted in each category (Open and Youth) and a judging panel comprised of Blackmores and CCNB leaders will pick one winner in each category as well as an overall winner – the Mercie Whellan Wellbeing Award.

The overall winner will receive $5000 for a registered charity of their choice; category winners (Open and Youth) will each receive $2000 prize money for a registered charity of their choice; category runners-up (Open and Youth) will receive $500 for a registered charity of their choice.

Additionally, all winners and runners-up will be invited to join the Leader’s Room brought to you by CCNB. This leadership program is designed to support women in getting to their next level of community success.

Nominate now

 

Entries open Wednesday 27 January 2021 at 9am AEDT and close Friday 19 February 2021 at 5pm AEDT. The Mercie Whellan Women+Wellbeing Award winner and each category winner (Open and Youth) and will be announced on Blackmores’ social media channels and on our website on International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March 2021.

For the full terms and conditions, click here.

 

Our 2020 winners' stories and the work they do to support mental wellbeing is truly awe-inspiring.

Last year we received hundreds of awe-inspiring submissions from across the country. To everyone who was nominated, thank you for all that you do to support mental wellbeing in your community. And to those who nominated, thank you for celebrating women’s achievements – we all rise by lifting others.

We hope you are as inspired as we are by the winners and runners-up, including a very special recognition of Petrea King, Founder of Quest for Life Foundation.

Petrea King | Quest for Life Foundation

Special Recognition

In addition to our winners and runners-up we’re proud to give ‘Special Recognition’ to Petrea King, CEO of Quest for Life Foundation (QFL). Petrea is a leading advocate of mental wellbeing, as well as author, inspirational keynote speaker, teacher and facilitator. Since 1985 more than 120,000 people have attended residential programs or counselling with Petrea and her team at QFL. Her recent response to those affected by the recent bushfires in her local community of Bundanoon, supported by the Blackmore Foundation, has been truly inspirational. 

“Quest for Life Foundation aims to encourage, educate and empower people with the tools to create emotional resilience and recovery from trauma. Assisting people from all walks of life, we provide a proven, evidence-based and holistic approach to physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Since the Australian bushfires devastated our local community, including the destruction of many homes, we’ve been providing mental health support and services to those affected, including volunteer emergency workers who have been working around the clock and surviving on Coca-Cola and adrenaline. 

Trauma is a terrible thing. Our goal is to help these people heal from anxiety and depression and prevent long-term consequences such as post-traumatic stress injury. We’re facilitating meditation, massage, drop-in counselling and recovery workshops, as well as five-day residential retreats for those worst affected. 

I’ve been doing this kind of work for many decades, inspired by my own near death experience with acute myeloid leukaemia soon after my brother Brenden’s suicide. As a qualified naturopath, herbalist, clinical hypnotherapist, yoga and meditation teacher my patients have included people living with cancer and other life-challenging illnesses, grief, loss, trauma, depression, anxiety and tragedy. 

It brings me immense joy to see the lights come on inside of someone as they learn they can be active co-creators of their own life and empowered to embrace and overcome their challenges. None of us needs to be defined by what has happened in the past, but we can all certainly use our experiences to make us stronger in the future.”

 

Dr Nadine Hamilton | Love Your Pet, Love Your Vet

Winner | Open Category

In 2009 after learning about the extraordinarily high rate of suicide amongst vets, animal lover and psychologist Dr Nadine began researching what could be done to help. Today she’s the founder of vet suicide prevention charity, Love Your Pet, Love Your Vet based in QLD, which raises community awareness and runs wellbeing workshops for veterinary professionals. Dr Nadine also turned her thesis into a best-selling book providing evidence-based tools to manage stress and burnout.

“People are always surprised when I tell them I was a 15-year-old high school dropout. However, at the age of 27, I started uni as a mature age student to study psychology and it was around this time that my cousin Andrew took his own life which was a tragedy for our family.

Shortly afterwards, we took our dog Caddy to a vet locum who pointedly mentioned the incredibly high rate of suicide in her profession, roughly four times the national average. 

Contrary to popular belief, vets aren’t simply spending their days playing with cute puppies and driving around in expensive cars. Their daily demands include euthanising beloved pets, being poorly treated for not meeting expectations and dealing with the financial effects of pet owners who cannot pay, which in turn commonly leads to compassion fatigue and suicidal tendencies.

After completing my 6.5 year doctoral research into what could be done, I founded the registered charity Love Your Pet, Love Your Vet in 2018. Our mission is to educate pet owners about how to better treat vets and to deliver national evidence-based wellbeing workshops to support veterinary professionals including nurses and technicians.

I’m driven to create a true paradigm shift and reduce stigma in veterinary professionals seeking help. I’m proud of what I’ve achieved so far – including recently speaking at a big international vet conference in the USA about my doctoral thesis which has been turned into a best-selling book. It’s important to remember that success is simply a matter of finding your passion, setting a goal and believing in yourself to achieve it.”

Learn more

 

Maddison O’Gradey-Lee | Mental health advocate

Winner | Youth Category 

At 17 Maddison started High Tide mental health workshops in high schools to reduce stigma and help kids thrive, based on courageously sharing her own personal experience of living with anxiety. Now 22, she’s helped build a global model of youth mental health care with Orygen, presented at the United Nations, won a Dalai Lama Peace Fellowship – the first young Aussie to do so, appeared on ABC’s The Crack-Up which helped raise $1 million for mental health research, and volunteered in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. She’s also finishing her honors degree in Psychology and Public Health & Policy at Macquarie Uni.

“Growing up I used to think my mum was making up the whole anxiety thing to simply make me feel better. It wasn’t until my year seven school camp teacher Ms Lucas told me about her own experience of living with anxiety that I realised it was nothing to be ashamed of and most importantly could be overcome.

In year 11 I started my High Tide workshops at local high schools to destigmatize mental health and start conversations based on my own experience. That same year I was accepted onto the youth council of Orygen where I recently helped develop a global model of youth mental health care. 

I believe that looking after our mental health before it reaches crisis point is just as important as looking after our physical health, and where better to start than with today’s youth. 

I still get butterflies whenever I tell my own personal story because it’s such a vulnerable thing to do. There are still many misconceptions about mental illness out there. However I know there’s power in acknowledging our own experience and it can make a huge difference to others who are struggling and perhaps scared to speak out.

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have some amazing female mentors, including Layne Beachley, who have believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. I’ve learned it’s important to back yourself and the people in your life. This belief and subsequent fight for your cause or fight for yourself creates incredible change.”

Learn more

 

Jeanine Treharne & Angela Farr-Jones | Stand Tall

Runners-up | Open Category

Concerned about the increasing incidence of serious mental health issues affecting teenagers, two Sydney Mums set about finding a way to meaningfully connect with young people and deliver hope for the future. Their highly successful program called ‘Stand Tall’ brings together music and inspirational stories giving students the courage to follow their dreams.

“We were motivated to create Stand Tall because we were hearing about the suicides of young people with everything to live for. Being a teenager today is much harder than in previous generations. Social media creates high expectations, coupled with the pressure of study and high prevalence of family break-up. We also believe that when people get a sense of perspective in their life, their own problems don’t seem to be as bad.  

We instinctively knew that bringing young people together in a concert environment combining music and inspirational stories would be a winning formula. We held our first ‘Stand Tall’ event in 2012 in a school hall on Sydney’s north shore. Since then the event has grown in popularity year on year, with an audience of 5,500 in 2019 and 2 dates booked for June 2020.

The stories we share represent a cross-section of backgrounds and experiences – all with a story of triumph over despair.  Previous speakers have included World Champion skateboarder, Poppy Starr, 10,000 metre Olympic runner Eloise Wellings, blind surfer Derek Rabelo and Tony Hoang, who shared his story of survival having been a member of one of the most notorious Asian crime gangs in Sydney.

A 2016 Gallup poll showed only 45% of youth have hope for the future. Hope is the most important indicator of future success – if someone has hope they can overcome life’s challenges. We want to plant seeds of hope so young people know it is going to be okay.

After our first event a young boy came up to us and said, ‘You have to keep doing what you are doing. I have had depression for two years and today you have given me the confidence that I am going to get better’. That was what we needed to hear - to know we were on the right track. Since then it has been gratifying to receive so many similar testimonials and know we have helped change thousands of young lives.”

Learn more

 

Emily Law | Mental health advocate

Runner-up | Youth Category

After being diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 13, Emily realised the huge impact others had on her mental wellbeing journey and set out to give back. Now 22 and studying psychology at Melbourne Uni, she’s a youth ambassador for ReachOut (and spoke at Parliament House last week!), a youth mental health officer at her local council, and a young advocacy advisor for Headspace. Emily truly is a woman with a mission. 

“If I could go back and say something to the 14-year-old me it would be ‘you are not too broken to get better’ and ‘be proud of who you are, you don’t need to change for anyone’.

I have always been a very empathetic person and quite driven to help others, but my own lived experience of mental illness makes the mental health area particularly important to me.

Growing up I struggled with a variety of different issues that affected me mentally and emotionally. Recovery wasn’t easy but I think my journey with mental health has been a really defining factor for the way I am today.

Recovery was a combination of traditional therapy, medication and peer support. Having people who understood and could genuinely support me though everyday life was really important. Having people with shared experience say that recovery was possible was a big catalyst for me.

When I realised this impact of other people, I decided I wanted to work in mental health to help others. Whenever I get the opportunity to share my story, people often come up to me and say they are grateful someone else can understand. It is a great feeling knowing you’ve made someone feel less alone.

Mental health is a seriously undervalued part of human life and adds so much value to every part of who we are. I think there should be greater emphasis on the importance of wellbeing, especially for young people.  It is often easy to forget to take care of your mental health if you are struggling to keep up with work and study and social obligations. Taking care of my wellbeing has really changed my overall happiness.”

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