Be Free Campaign
1496. Shantanu Kundu
Shantanu Kundu, from Liverpool, is a medical student who set up the ‘Be Free Campaign’ to reduce the stigma about mental health among young people.
Shantanu and his volunteer ambassadors use their social media following of over 1.5 million people to promote mental wellbeing, and have held street campaigns and workshops in schools and universities for 6,000 young people in the North West and Midlands.
In a personal letter to Shantanu, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:
“As we mark World Mental Health Day, I am delighted to recognise the fantastic work you have done creating the ‘Be Free Campaign’.
“Together with your team of ambassadors, you have inspired thousands of students and young people across the country to talk openly about their mental health. With your enormous social media following you are transforming attitudes towards mental health and showing the world it’s okay not to feel okay.
“As Prime Minister, I want to see mental health given just the same urgency and seriousness with which we treat our physical well-being. But in this country we all too often get terribly British about such things, stiffening our upper lips and suffering on in silence.
“For that to change I know that we need to get a lot more people talking openly and honestly about what is going on inside their heads – so you can imagine how pleased I was to hear how the Be Free Campaign is helping thousands of people do just that.”
“It has been the honour of my life to have received this award and thanks from the Prime Minister. Especially during these times, mental health issues have become highly prevalent. I am overwhelmed by the amount of support that this charity has received from communities and the government. I would like to thank my team, without whom none of this would have been possible. I never thought my actions or work had warranted such kindness from the Prime Minister, but I am truly humbled and honoured to be recognised for my work. Mental health is important, you are never alone, speak up and get help.”