Suicide prevention campaigner receives honorary award

Steve Mallen

Steve Mallen is an ‘inspirational role model’ for ARU’s staff and students

Suicide prevention and mental health campaigner Steve Mallen received the award of Honorary Doctor of Health Sciences from the Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Professor Roderick Watkins, during a graduation ceremony in Cambridge on Wednesday night.

Steve is a Cambridgeshire resident and a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Following a successful corporate career spanning over 30 years in the international chartered surveying and fund management industries, Steve experienced a personal tragedy that transformed his life when he lost his 18-year-old son, Edward, to suicide in 2015.

Since that tragic event, Steve has channelled all his energies and his astute business mind into a new life as a passionate campaigner for better mental health care and a greater understanding of suicide. His work is bringing hope to others and is significantly changing our society’s attitudes to mental health and strategies around suicide prevention. He was described by the former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as “the country’s most formidable campaigner on suicide prevention”.

As a co-founder of the Zero Suicide Alliance and a member of the National Suicide Prevention Group within the Department of Health & Social Care, Steve works with all parts of Government and the NHS regarding mental health and suicide prevention.

Describing himself as someone who’s prepared to make a nuisance of himself, Steve is also a member of The National Children’s Bureau and Chairman of The MindEd Trust, a charity specifically founded in memory of his son and focused on the mental health of children and young people.

Professor Watkins said:

“Steve has worked closely with ARU since January 2020, when he spoke at a Suicide Awareness launch event. He is passionate about raising standards of mental health care in all settings, including universities, and promoting effective strategies for suicide prevention. It’s impossible to hear him speak without sharing some of his determination to help – as a society and as individuals.

“At the heart of Steve’s commitment lies a fierce determination to prevent his experience of losing a dearly loved one from happening to others. He is an inspirational role model for all our staff and students.”

Speaking before last night’s ceremony, Steve said:

“This award means a great deal to me and my family, but most importantly this is an award for my son and it’s really in his legacy. This award comes from terrible tragedy and I am delighted to be here today to mark the achievement made in his name.

“Current times are very challenging. We remind ourselves that our resilience and our wellbeing are just as important as our physical health. Out of dark can come light, and if you work hard and persevere, you can make a difference.”

Steve received his award at one of 14 graduations taking place this week at the city’s Corn Exchange. More than 3,000 students from both the class of 2020 and 2021 will be crossing the stage to formally complete their degrees in the first physical graduation ceremonies to take place for ARU students in Cambridge since 2019.

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