MSW student Nina Leger was recently honored with a Youth and Young Adult Voice Award for her advocacy work in mental health. The state award is sponsored by the N.C. One Community in Recovery Conference and celebrates youth and young adults under the age of 26 who have used their individual talents, advocacy, professional work or volunteerism, to successfully promote mental health or substance-use recovery and resilience. Leger received the award during the annual conference in Greensboro in March.
Leger’s interest in mental health issues initially grew from her own challenges with an eating disorder and her recovery journey. A graduate of N.C. State University, she helped launch Raleigh’s “Outrace the Stigma 5K” four years ago. The event helps to raise awareness and funding for the National Alliance for Mental Illness.
Leger currently works full-time as a community inclusion specialist with the nonprofit Alliance of Disability Advocates, a federally funded center for independent living in Raleigh. In this role, she helps individuals with mental illness leaving institutions to access the resources and services they need to successfully transition back into the community.
She is also actively involved as a member of the state’s Mental Health Planning and Advisory Council and as a representative of a task force for the Department of Health and Human Services and North Carolina Emergency Management. In this role, she is working with other task force members to reform mental health services in shelters. Leger, who will graduate in May, said she was honored to be selected for the youth and young adult award. She remains committed to integrating mental health education into the state’s public systems.
“It means a lot to me to be recognized as a proponent of change in my community,” she said. “Being in lived recovery myself, it’s nice to know that I’m making a difference.”