Dr Alex George named government mental health ambassador

Published
Image source, Getty Images

A&E doctor and ex-Love Islander Alex George has been appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as youth mental health ambassador for the government.

He will "shape policy" and advise on support for young people in his role, Downing Street said.

In a post to his 1.7 million Instagram followers, Alex wrote: "Never has mental health been as important as now.

"From schools to universities, the NHS and the wider public, mental health matters."

The prime minister said the focus of Alex's role will be on children and young people's mental health, saying they've "heroically adapted" in the pandemic.

"This has understandably had a huge impact on their mental health, so I want to shine a spotlight on this vital issue ahead of their return to school," the PM said in a statement.

"I'm delighted that Dr Alex George will be working with us as we do everything in our power to improve people's mental wellbeing."

Since his appearance in Love Island in 2018, Alex has been back in his day job, working in A&E at University Hospital Lewisham in London.

Last year he lost his brother, Llŷr, to suicide.

"Nothing will bring my brother back but if I can make a positive impact that saves even one life, it will be worth moving mountains for," he said.

Media caption,
Dr Alex: From Love Island to the frontline of a pandemic

If you've been following Alex on Instagram or TikTok, you'll have seen his posts encouraging everything from chlamydia testing to breathing exercises for anxiety.

Last month, the 30-year-old publicly requested to speak to the prime minster about his campaign for better mental health provisions.

Alex's new unpaid position will involve looking at what support is offered to young people in schools, colleges and universities, and advising the government on what more they can do.

He will also use his already existing platform to "signpost the support that is already available".

The government already has a loneliness minister, Baroness Barran, and a minister for mental health, suicide prevention and patient safety, Nadine Dorries.

'Young people need a voice'

Alex will be part of the Mental Health in Education Action Group, set up specifically to look at people returning to school after lockdown.

He said: "Right now young people need a voice in government, and I hope that through this role I can advocate for meaningful change in this area.

"I hope to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and their education for good."

Claire Murdoch, mental health director, NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: "I met Dr Alex recently and was struck by his commitment to the NHS and to the mental health of our nation."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.