Two daring mental health professionals have gone above and beyond for the young people in their care after taking on a skydive from 15,000 ft and raising over £4,000 for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.

Alex Borg, Executive Director of Mental Health and his Consultant Psychiatrist colleague, Manoj Sukumaran, who is also Deputy Medical Director at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, took to the skies for the hospital charity’s Fight For All The Feels youth mental health campaign, which launched last year on World Mental Health Day.

The campaign is in aid of Forward Thinking Birmingham, the city’s Mental Health Partnership for 0-25s, which is part of the same Trust as the Children’s Hospital. It is currently working to implement and fund a network of Peer Support Workers, all from similar backgrounds to those they will support, and crucially with their own lived-experiences of mental illness, so they are not only able to help young people with their medical recovery, but personal recovery too.

Youth mental health illness has been on the rise for some time, but during the past 18 months, Alex and Manoj saw first-hand how the pandemic has taken a toll on children and young people’s lives, with increased rates of anxiety, depression and other serious conditions being presented. It was this that inspired them to do something big to boost fundraising for the much needed cause.

Alex said: “Our Peer Support Workers are the first of their kind within Children’s and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the UK and we can already see how invaluable a tool they will be in supporting our young people, just by being that person who really does know exactly what they’re going through.”

On the day of the skydive, after a very early start, Alex and Manoj drove down to Wiltshire, to the skydiving centre. It was a very pleasant day, with perfect conditions, so after receiving their initial briefings and checks, the time for the jump came around quickly. After what seemed to be a long flight up they took the plunge. Strapped to their instructors, the initial rush of free-fall passed very quickly and the glide down allowed time to enjoy the spectacular views around the Wiltshire countryside, including the Stonehenge in the distance.

Alex continued: “Manoj and I wanted to do something that would take us out of our comfort zone in support of all of our young people who we know often feel out of theirs. The skydive certainly did that, but we’re so proud to have done it and so thankful to everyone who donated and supported us along the way.”

Miranda Williams, Head of Public Fundraising at Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “Children and young people’s mental health has taken a hit over the last year and Alex and Manoj know that only too well. The incredible funds they raised by taking the plunge will help support  young patients to cope with everything they’re experiencing now and in the future, so that their mental health isn’t a barrier to them achieving their dreams.”