Michelle Howieson - who has been a driving force behind our Equally Fit project in partnership with Bipolar Scotland - has been short-listed for the title of Self Management Champion of the Year in the Self Management Awards 2017.

Equally Fit was launched in 2016 with the aim of ending health inequalities for people with serious mental illness and addressing the shocking statistic in Scotland that people with serious mental illness on average die 20 years earlier than the general population.

Michele spoke passionately about her own experiences of health inequalities during an Equally Fit conference in Glasgow, and again at the launch of the project's Charter of Rights at the Scottish Parliament in April (main picture).

Michele is one of our trained 'Change Champions' and has since work tirelessly to raise awareness of the issues nationally and locally.

Michele is also a director of Bipolar Scotland and facilitates Lothian Bipolar Self help Group which meets in Support in Mind Scotland's Stafford Centre.

Michelle took part in Bipolar Scotland’s self management training in 2011 and credits this with keeping her condition under control. She said: “I felt empowered being able to take control of my condition and being in the driving seat for the first time since being diagnosed”.

Her energy, motivation, enthusiasm and dedication to self-management is inspirational and has had a considerable marked effect on both our organisation and our members.

Alison Cairns and Frances Simpson, CEOs of Bipolar Scotland and Support in Mind Scotland respectively, have welcomed Michelle's short-listing for the award, describing it as "richly deserved".

Alison Cairns said: "Michelle helps spread the message about Bipolar Scotland’s self management programme in words and actions. She puts it into action in facilitating a successful self help group in Edinburgh, never missing a meeting, and supporting countless people to take control of their health.

"She volunteers for different organisations across Lothian and Scotland helping spread the message of the benefits of self management by speaking at events, with the Alliance and elsewhere, and talking to people at information stands on a regular basis.

"By putting into action self management of her conditions, Michelle is a true example of how to self manage."

Winners will be announced at the Self Management Awards ceremony which takes place during Self Management Week on Wednesday 4th October, 5.30pm-8pm at the Scottish Parliament.

The awards will be hosted by Jackie Baillie MSP and Minister for Public Health and Sport Aileen Campbell MSP will also speak at the ceremony.