Pioneering mental health campaigner awarded MBE

Dr Phil Cooper
Dr Phil Cooper

A mental health expert - who established a pioneering campaign to address depression following rugby league legend Terry Newton’s death - is set to become an MBE.

Dr Phil Cooper, a founder of the State of Mind campaign, has earned a mention in the Queen’s birthday honours list for his outstanding contribution to raise mental health awareness and being and advocate for vulnerable people in the community.

In 2011, the nurse consultant, with Malcolm Rae, Carol Ede and Ernie Benbow, were integral to the initiative getting started.

As details of former Great Britain player Newton’s hidden battle with depression emerged following his suicide, Phil and colleagues created an advocacy programme which has now been rolled out to all Super League and Championship clubs.

Away from rugby league, working for North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, he works with vulnerable adults in Wigan, St Helens, Halton, Knowsley and Warrington who have mental health and substance misuse problems, battling to improve access to support.

Reacting to his nomination, Dr Cooper, who specialises in dual diagnosis, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to receive such a prestigious award.

“It reflects on all mental health nurses and the fantastic work that happens every day across the country that is often not reported.”

He also paid tribute to his wife Helen and colleagues at North West Boroughs for their support,

Steve Hull, the trust’s deputy nursing director, put his name forward for the royal recognition.

He added: “Phil has always been a huge inspiration to me and so many others, both at work and in the community and I felt he deserved formal recognition for everything he’s achieved.”

“He has championed important issues like men’s mental health and suicide awareness and he’s touched so many people’s lives – empowering people to open up and speak out about their mental health.”

Three years ago he was given the Royal College of Nursing and Nursing Standard’s mental health award, while State of Mind was still in its infancy.

This was followed, 12 months later, by a lifetime achievement honour, at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health awards.

He is also currently deputy chairman of the National Consortium of Dual Diagnosis Nurse Consultants.

Each Super League season now sees a State of Mind round, which saw Dr Cooper interviewed by Leeds Rhinos’ Jamie Jones Buchanan, for Rugby AM radio show.

A State of Mind spokesman said: “We are immensely proud of Dr Phil and his contribution to building our organisation over the past few years.”