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Hertfordshire’s ‘Just Talk’ mental health campaign shortlisted for the 2019 HSJ awards

Hertfordshire’s ‘Just Talk’ mental health campaign has been shortlisted for Mental Health Innovation of the Year at this year’s HSJ Awards, recognising the campaign’s outstanding contribution to healthcare.

The judging panel, made up of a diverse range of highly influential and respected figures within the healthcare community, have shortlisted ‘Just Talk’ despite the tough competition from hundreds of excellent applicants.

The campaign has been selected based on its ambition, visionary spirit and demonstrable positive impact it has had on children, young people and the professionals that work with them. Steered by young people, more than 20 partners from children’s services, education, the voluntary sector and healthcare are working together to meet the objectives of the Just Talk campaign. They are coordinated by the Public Health team at Hertfordshire County Council.

Just Talk came about in 2017 when  professionals from various agencies in Hertfordshire came together to discuss the issue that current mental health services, projects and campaigns may be better meeting the needs of girls than boys.

As a result, extensive research and consultation took place with teenage boys across the county. This provided us with the evidence that boys were less likely to talk to someone or seek help if they were struggling to cope, but that they do want to engage more and better understand how to look after their mental health.

In Hertfordshire in 2016, 24% of 12-13 year olds boys were keeping worries to themselves. In 2018, following year one of the #JustTalk campaign, this had reduced to 20%.

Hertfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Prevention, Cllr Tim Hutchings said:

“We are delighted to have been shortlisted for Mental Health Innovation of the Year at this year’s HSJ Awards, recognising the collaborative efforts and dedication of our partners over the last two years to successfully implement the ‘Just Talk’ campaign.

“To be chosen among the other incredible nominees is a wonderful achievement. We continue to build on our work and this year’s ‘Just Talk’ campaign week will be taking place from 18th November. Please visit to find out more.”

13-year-old Alex, who took part in the Just Talk film competition to promote the campaign said: “I think boys tend to keep problems inside, we want to stay strong and not look weak in a way. But there’s no need for that, if you share your problems then it will help everything.”

Kathryn Magson, CEO of NHS Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group and Chair for the Hertfordshire Emotional and Mental Wellbeing Board said:

“This is great news for health partners across Hertfordshire. ‘Just Talk’ has had a positive and real impact on young people’s mental health. Between 2016 (prior to the campaign) and 2018 (post campaign launch) there has been a reduction in the proportion of boys who keep their worries about their mental health to themselves. The campaign uses lots of ways to promote its positive messages. The #justtalk social media campaign was particularly successful, enabling us to share the campaign much wider than the Hertfordshire area and raise awareness at a regional and national level. In the first month of the campaign, we reached over four and a half million people through social media.”

HSJ editor Alistair Mclellan, comments “We would like to congratulate Just Talk on being nominated in the category of Mental Health Innovation of the Year ahead of this year’s 2019 HSJ awards. The entrants this year have been of incredible calibre, and each of the finalists in this category have been chosen based on their outstanding commitment to excellence in healthcare.”

The full list of nominees for the 2019 HSJ awards (partnered by GRI) can be found on

Winners will be selected ahead of the 2019 HSJ awards ceremony, which is due to be held at the Battersea Evolution Centre, London on November 6th.

For more information about the ‘Just Talk’ campaign and a list of partners involved, please visit:



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