HEALTH secretary Matt Hancock praised The Sun for putting mental health centre stage during last night's Who Cares Wins awards.
The Conservative MP, 41, said The Sun had lead the way when it comes to mental health awareness, in part through the You're Not Alone campaign.
His comments came during the star-studded ceremony, which celebrated inspirational NHS workers and volunteers that have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
The politician told the audience: "The Sun has helped to lead the national debate.
"I pay tribute to everyone at The Sun who has played their part in making that happen.
"This week is mental health awareness week and this recognises and allows people to talk about it.
"I'm delighted to present this award."
Matt made the comments before presenting the Mental Health Hero award to Ben West.
He was joined by newsreader Kate Silverton onstage, who also stressed the importance of raising mental health awareness.
And she revealed that she is now training as a mental health counsellor.
She told The Sun Online before the awards: "The NHS – I think I can speak for myself and most people when I say it means everything.
"The people that are here tonight are incredible, they dedicate their lives to alleviate suffering in others.
The Sun has helped to lead the national debate. This week is mental health awareness week and this recognises and allows people to talk about it
"I'm presenting the mental health award, something I'm passionate about.
"I'm training as a counsellor now, so I've gone back to my academic routes.
"My background is in child psychology and I think because we took so long to have children I thought I wouldn't be able to go back into that space.
"Since having children and now being parents to very young children myself and knowing and learning what I'm learning I feel it's vitally fundamental to actually enter the space and do what I can as a journalist and a mum to raise awareness around children's mental health."
The Mental Health Hero award went to Ben West, who lost his brother Sam, 15, to suicide last year.
Ben was shattered by grief but rather than suffer in silence, he started raising awareness of mental health to help prevent other families suffer the same loss.
He has raised £45,000 for charity and with his Save Our Students petition campaigned for better awareness of mental ill-health in schools.
Ben’s brother Sam was found hanging in January 2018 after suffering depression.
Ben tried to revive him while mum Michelle called an ambulance. But sadly Sam died.
Who Cares Wins Awards: The winners
BEST HEALTH CHARITY
Winner: Matt Hampson Foundation
Former English rugby union player Matt Hampson set up a charity to help others after being left paralysed in a scrum in 2005.
Other nominees: Superhero Foundation and Team Domenica
BEST NEONATAL SPECIALIST
Winner: Professor Kypros Nicolaides
Professor Nicolaides performed pioneering keyhole surgeon on Sherrie Sharp’s unborn son Jaxon. By extraordinary coincidence, as a young surgeon, he also operated on Sherrie’s mother when she was in the womb.
Other nominees: Dr Vesna Pavasovic and Professor Massimo Caputo
Winner: Therapeutic Care Volunteers at South Tees NHS Foundation Trust
30 therapeutic care volunteers, who all have a learning or physical disability, give up their time to support patients with spinal injuries at The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough. They include Ify Nwokoro.
Other nominees: Ben Slack and Rob Allen
Winner: Guy’s and St Thomas’ London Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) Service
Leia Armitage, eight, was born with a rare form of deafness and was never expected to speak. But she now can thanks to pioneering brain surgery and speech therapy carried out by Guy’s and St Thomas’ London Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) Service.
Other nominees: Dr Helen Spencer and Girish Vajramani
Winner: Dr Matthew Boulter
Dr Boulter served in Afghanistan, teaches wild trauma to army medics and his surgery became the first in Cornwall to be given veteran friendly accreditation.
Other nominees: Margaret France and Dr Bijay Sinha
Winner: Jane Parke
Jane helped deliver the youngest surviving twin boys in Britain when they were born at 22 weeks last year. She flew 190 miles with their mum Jennie Powell to a specialist neonatal unit.
Other nominees: Charlotte Day and Nagmeh Teymourian
Winner: Ruth Lowe and Nick Evans
Porters Ruth and Nick saved the life of Sarah and Mike Clifford’s seven-week-old baby Logan. He stopped breathing as they walked through the main entrance of The Princess Royal Hospital in Telford to visit a sick relative.
Other nominees: Dr Mark Forrest and Mike Merrett
Winner: Liz Monaghan
Liz is the Matron of the Florence Nightingale Hospice in Aylesbury, Bucks, and came up with the idea for the widely praised Purple Rose initiative to improve the care for patients in the last days of their lives.
Other nominees: Margaret Ballard and Carlton DeCosta
MENTAL HEALTH HERO, SPONSORED BY PFIZER
Winner: Ben West
Ben lost his brother Sam, 15, to suicide last year and since his death, has campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness for mental health.
Other nominees: Beth Gregan and Catherine Benfield
Winner: Ronnie Musselwhite
Ronnie offered to help his sister Ebonie by giving her a bone marrow transplant when she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia. Ebonie nominated her brother for his bravery before she died in June.
Other nominees: Bella Field and Kaitlyn Wright
Ben, from Staplehurst, Kent, said: "I didn’t know he’d been diagnosed with depression.
"He only told my mum. Sam worried about being judged. It shouldn’t be like this."
Ben, 19, launched WalkToTalk, where people can walk while discussing mental health.
The event in August 2018 raised £15,000. An account on JustGiving raised £30,000 and Ben set up the Sam West Foundation to promote awareness of mental health.
Ben was nominated by pal Sebastian Yeandle, part of the WalkToTalk team.
Ben said: "I hope Sam would be proud. It’s good to know we’re helping people and being recognised for it."
Last night's awards were attended by a host of stars including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, The Duchess of York, Strictly's Shirley Ballas, Casualty's Charles Venn and Love Island's Curtis Pritchard.
Earlier this morning, Chris Evans donated £25k to the Swan Song Project, run by Ben Slack – who was nominated for the Unsung Hero Award.
The presenter, 53, gave the huge sum of money to the charity on his Virgin Radio show.
Ben, 29, set up the project in 2016 after his grandmother passed away and he was inspired to help the dying and their loved ones write their own songs.
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