A GP’s efforts to improve her community’s mental health have been recognised by the Queen.

Dr Farnaaz Sharief, Clinical Lead for Mental Health at Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), has been appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2018 birthday honours list.


Dr Sharief, who is also an Elected Clinical Member with the Medway CCG Governing Body and a locum GP, works tirelessly as a volunteer to provide mental health support and advice through the Manage Your Mind programme.

Dr Peter Green, Clinical Chair at Medway CCG, the organisation responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, said: “All of us at Medway CCG offer our congratulations to Dr Sharief. The work she does to support the good mental health of the community is outstanding and it is only right that she receives this recognition.

“Good mental health can make a significant difference to a person’s wellbeing and we are all very proud of Dr Sharief’s achievements in this area.”

Dr Sharief works with the CCG to improve mental health services for children, adults and older people. She also established Manage Your Mind in 2012 as a way of providing free practical help to combat mild or moderate depression, stress and anxiety in the community.

“I’m incredibly honoured, very grateful and absolutely overwhelmed to receive this honour in recognition of my work, which is as much for me as it is for the whole Manage Your Mind team. It is also great to see people recognising the importance of good mental health,” said Dr Sharief.

“Stress can have a significant impact on a person’s wellbeing and I set these workshops up to help people manage their own mental health and learn to cope with whatever difficulties life may throw at them. The sessions are run entirely by volunteers, who have all completed the programme. We teach people practical, effective ways to manage depression, anxiety and other challenges, empowering and encouraging them to develop a more positive perspective when it comes to dealing with stress.”

More than 1,500 people have benefitted from the free weekly workshops, which are accessed by self-referral. Sessions consist of breathing techniques and mindfulness exercises to combat stress. Manage Your Mind has been externally evaluated by the Centre of Health Services at the University of Kent, which found that those who completed the programme had seen anxiety levels reduced by 80 per cent and depression levels reduced by 78 per cent.

The project was initially funded by the International Association for Human Values and Medway Council, with Dr Sharief and her team continually applying for grants and fundraising to ensure the weekly workshops can continue to be made available at no cost to the public.

Dr Green added: “Dr Sharief has achieved much in the last six years, showing commitment and determination, setting up the programme, giving talks and workshops, sourcing funds and setting up the website and an online web application. She has made a massive impact on the community’s mental health with drive, determination and passion for her cause.”

Dr Sharief said: “As a GP my job can be very stressful, so I participated in a similar workshop which really made a difference to me. I just wanted to be able to make that difference for others, which is why I feel it’s important to keep these weekly sessions free. People simply self-refer to Manage Your Mind and then attend workshops as needed on a drop-in basis.”

The Queen’s birthday honours recognise people who have committed themselves to serving and helping Britain, having made life better for other people.

Dr Sharief has previously won a British Citizen Award for Healthcare, The University of Kent Sponsors award and was a finalist for the Pride in Medway Award in 2017.

To find out more about Manage Your Mind see www.manageyourmind.org.uk. To find out more about the work of Medway CCG visit www.medwayccg.nhs.uk.


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Notes to Editors

  • Medway CCG is responsible for planning and buying local NHS services, for the patient population of 295,223 across Medway.
  • Medway CCG’s main role is to plan and buy health services across the Medway towns. It works closely with patient groups, local public health, social care and voluntary sector partners to make sure the right services are available at the right time.
  • The CCG is one of 211 in the country, the Medway CCG is made up of GPs, other healthcare professionals and experienced commissioners dedicated to making Medway a healthier place to live.
  • It is committed to developing a strong clinically-led organisation that puts the needs of Medway residents at the heart of its decisions.
  • Medway Clinical Commissioning Group has a governing body made up of local GPs, a registered nurse and several lay members, all working with a network of health professionals across the area.