A SINGLE mum from Cradley Heath who started a support group for people with mental health problems has picked up a regional award.

Samantha Chatwin, aged 31, has been given the West Midlands Thrive Black Country Individual Mental Health Star award.

The Thrive Awards celebrate unsung heroes in mental health who make a difference to the lives of people in the West Midlands.

Mum-of-two Samantha, of Hall Street, beat three other finalists to be named winner after receiving several nominations.

Samantha has been recognised for her efforts creating a Facebook support group Stronger Together - under the motto 'It's okay not to be okay - which has grown a community who meet weekly at the Amber Tavern on Hagley Road West, in Quinton.

People travel from across the West Midlands to meet with others who are in similar positions and fight against the isolation that so many with mental health issues feel.

Having suffered with extreme highs and lows since having a breakdown in 2017, Samantha said she wanted to help others.

She said people who attend her group were really grateful that she’d set it up.

She said: “They’re all amazing – they keep thanking me, but I want to thank them.

"As much as it’s helped others, it’s helped me loads.”

Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Samantha is a credit to the borough.

"Her efforts to end isolation for those with mental health concerns should be commended.

"This is exactly the work we are looking to highlight more of as part of Stronger Sandwell, a community is strongest when the people in it work together.”

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for living healthy lives Councillor Farut Shaeen said: “We must work harder to end the stigma that still exists around mental health.

"If we start the conversation, then we can encourage others to open up about their own experiences.

“As a council, we are dedicated to improving the opportunities for those who have poor mental health and working together to ensure understanding of all issues that may affect those we meet.”

Samantha is organising a Family Fun Day at Warley Rugby Club on Saturday June 6.

The day will feature performances by local artists as well as a barbecue and bouncy castle. Funds raised on the day will support the organisation.

If you are interested in being part of the event e mail Sam at samw88@live.co.uk