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the mentl awards

A courageous Emirati, once called the ‘possessed boy’ led the winners at ‘the mentl awards 2023’ in an evening dedicated to inspiration and compassion.

Adel AlFalasi lifted the Mental Health Hero: Overcoming Barriers trophy at a glittering awards dinner after sharing his powerful story of mental illness and recovery with judges in the awards’ first edition.

His childhood was a journey through darkness and isolation, with the young boy believing he was possessed and that he could see and speak with ghosts, the reality was he was struggling with a number of mental illnesses including bipolar Schizoaffective disorder, epilepsy, PTSD, panic attacks, and social anxiety.

A stroke that hospitalised him eventually led to him being treated by Dr Nahida Nayez Ahmed, consultant psychiatrist with Seha. Through his treatment Adel discovered the therapeutic power of art, eventually this led to his exhibiting his work at the 3rd Abu Dhabi Integrated Mental Health Conference earlier this year.

Writing the day after his collecting his award on stage at the St Regis Downtown Dubai in front of close to 200 people on Friday evening, he said: “This still feels like a dream for me, but last night was the day that I will never forgot.

“Please allow me to dedicate this spectacular mentl award to Dr. Nahida Nayaz Ahmed and to all her patients. We did it. We overcame our barriers and we will never stop.

“We can be more than what we thought, suffering in silence and alone is not the answer. Just one step forward could be life-changing and you will become a hero. You can be better and everything will be alright.”

Highly commended in Adel’s category was Anna Marie Lopes, whose story was no less compelling. A domestic violence survivor courageously fighting C-PTSD, depression, and anxiety. She has become a resilient mental health and trauma advocate inspiring others on their mental health journeys despite her own battles.

In all 27 winners and 18 highly commended individuals, projects and companies were honoured at ‘the mentl award 2023’, which sought to champion the work of those who went above and beyond, creating cultures where all thrive. The evening was supported by Cigna Healthcare as the headline sponsor.

Founder of mentl, and the mentl awards 2023, Scott Armstrong said: “Our mission our mentl is to have open and honest conversations about mental health so that we all know that we can talk about it. I was so inspired by the courage of Adel and Anna for sharing their stories with our jury, that take real bravery to open up and delighted to see them honoured in the awards.

“We wanted to make a bold statement with the awards, that kindness, compassion and empathy are worth celebrating. To me every single entrant was a winner whether they walked away with a trophy or not, they stepped up to be counted.

“It was an incredible evening with nearly 200 passionate advocates of wellbeing coming together to make a difference. Together we thrive.”

Winners of ‘the mentl awards 2023’

Outstanding mental health initiative in education

Aldar Education

Safa British School                         

Ajman University – College of Medicine / Dr Jigna Stott

Best mental health care in human resources & recruitment

Elements Talent Consultancy      

Aldar Education                              

Best caring for the carers initiative

Aster DM Healthcare’s Initiative for Caregivers          

NMC Provita                        

Outstanding contribution in healthcare to mental health

Cigna Healthcare   

American Center for Psychiatry & Neurology 

Best mental health care in professional services

ELEMENTS by Acorn Strategy & Digital Farm 

Deloitte Middle East                                  

Outstanding mental health in the event sector

Connection@ASM Global

Workspace Summit by dmg events      

British Business Group Dubai and Northern Emirates

Most impactful financial literacy project

Conscious Finance Coaching – Employee Financial Wellness Programs

KFI GLOBAL                         

Best mental health care in the creative industries


ELEMENTS by Acorn Strategy & Digital Farm 

Best mental health support in PR and communications

ELEMENTS by Acorn Strategy & Digital Farm 

Best mental health program for the start-up & SME sector

Nikki Steele Osborne                                 


Best mental health project in the medicinal and life science industries

Brain Matrix Alliance

Most innovative mental health tech


Outstanding mental health support in the retail sector

Chalhoub Group                             

Outstanding mental health support in the energy industry

Siemens Energy                             

Best mental health care in the legal profession

Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP        

Gateley UK LLP (DMCC Branch)             

Outstanding community impact by mental health professionals

The LightHouse Arabia     

Sage Clinics                         

Outstanding mental health initiative in sports, fitness, and wellness


Best mental health care in the mobility sector

On Star by General Motors                      

Best mental health program for hospitality and tourism

Dubai Chefs Collective                              

Best mental health care in a charity or non-profit

British Business Group Dubai and Northern Emirates

Outstanding mental health for our front-line heroes


Maya Bizri                                        

Outstanding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative

Siemens Energy                             

Mental Health Heroes: Empathy in Leadership

Sarah Siyani / Aldar Education              

Tapan Vaidya, CEO, Papa Johns, UAE, KSA and Jordan                  

Iain Balfour, Operations Director at LIGHTBLUE

Mental Health Heroes: Advocate of the Year          

Heather Broderick                         

Mental Health Heroes: Mental Health Champion 2023

Dr. Saliha Afridi, PsyD

Jane Maiella

Mental Health Heroes: Overcoming barriers to succeed

Adel AlFalasi            

Anna Marie Lopes