New Year Honours recognise mental health Occupational therapist Justine Norris MBE

Date added: 31 December 2020

Justine Norris, an Occupational therapist from Deal, has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list with an MBE for her contribution to mental health services, in particular during COVID-19.

On the first night of lockdown in March 2020, Justine recognised that the necessary government restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, would have a considerable negative impact on mental health service users in Kent and Medway. Justine swiftly pulled together a range of resources to be shared across Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) to support patients who needed to stay at home or whose community programmes had to temporarily stop because of the restrictions.

The resource pack was quickly recognised as an essential tool that would benefit people in KMPT and beyond. Justine and her colleagues shared her resource pack across social media platforms and she was quickly contacted by people from across the world asking permission to use her resources.

So far Justine has received more than 500 requests to use the documents from Bangladesh, Canada, Hawaii, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, France and Spain (not an exhaustive list).

Justine’s resources were also acknowledged by Natalie Elphicke OBE MP for Dover and Deal in the House of Commons Official Report of Parliamentary Debates.

The resources include tips covering diet, routine, activity and staying connected. Sections also include mood, anxiety management, stress relief, sleep and exercise.

Justine Norris has worked as an Occupational therapist for six years and started with KMPT on an inpatient ward before joining one of KMPT’s crisis teams. She started training at University to become an Occupational therapist after her mother passed away following a battle with cancer. “I was caring for mum for some time when an Occupational therapist came to see her. She was incredible and thought about mum’s needs outside of medication. I instantly knew this was something I would love to do. A friend of mine decided to go back to University to train as an Occupational therapist and asked if I would join her. I immediately thought there would be no way I could get into University at the age of 43! But we did it; we both completed University and are now practising occupational therapists. I absolutely love going to work (with my amazing team) and am positively thrilled to receive this recognition - although I still say I was just doing my job!”

Chief Executive Helen Greatorex said: “We could not be more proud of Justine. She has made an enormously positive difference to the people who use our services, to her colleagues and now to others around the world. She is a shining example of outstanding practice in mental health and the accolade of an MBE is rightful recognition of her exceptional contribution.”

Justine is a lifelong Deal resident. She is proud to share her outstanding skills with her daughter who will be following in her footsteps by training as an Occupational therapist at University in September 2021.