After 14 years of running Mental Health Aberdeen (MHA), one of the oldest mental health charities in the country, chief executive Astrid Whyte is stepping down from the role to focus solely on supporting and developing the various counselling services within the charity.
Having started her career with the charity as a counsellor and trainer, Astrid worked her way up to the role of chief executive in 2007 and has been the constant, familiar, much-loved face of the charity throughout many changes and challenges. Whilst continuing to provide counselling, Astrid has also driven the launch of several key initiatives, including Scottish Mental Health First Aid training courses, lunch and learns for groups and businesses in the North-east, and setting up an emergency mental health helpline to assist with the increased number of calls as a result of CV19.
Picking up the baton of chief executive is Graeme Kinghorn, who has been treasurer and voluntary board member of MHA for more than 10 years. Graeme, a chartered accountant, brings over 25 years of senior level experience working with Aberdeen-based companies to the position, along with an excellent understanding of how MHA operates, and the importance of the charity’s strong bond with the people of the North-east.
The changes at the top are being deemed as a huge win by the board, as they hold onto Astrid’s invaluable experience and passion for developing the counselling services, and bring Graeme in to run the charity and ensure that MHA achieves their ambitious plans for 2021 and beyond.
Mark Lough, chairman of Mental Health Aberdeen said “I am delighted to be welcoming Graeme into his new role as chief executive and see his appointment as a significant step in the development of the charity as we build upon the huge contribution made by Astrid over the years. I have had the good fortune to work alongside Graeme for the last seven years and recognise the unique set of qualities and experience that he brings to our shared endeavour. It is therefore with very great pleasure that I look forward to a new phase of growth as we continue to play our part in supporting the wellbeing of those living in our community.”
Astrid Whyte, new counselling services manager of MHA said: “Initially I had planned to retire this coming year, but now I am truly looking forward to spending my last year working directly on the operational side, supporting our ever growing service delivery within our projects. My biggest joy and relief is that I am handing over to Graeme, who cares deeply about our charity, the people working in it and all our client groups: I know that he will have the needs of the local communities at the forefront of his overall strategy - the charity could not be in safer hands.”
Graeme Kinghorn said: "I am extremely honoured to be given the opportunity to guide this extraordinary charity which has supported the local community for the last 70 years. It is entirely appropriate to recognise the incredible commitment of Astrid over the last three decades and her contribution to improve service quality, availability and delivery which has benefitted countless thousands of local people of all ages. I am delighted to continue to work alongside her as we continue to raise awareness of the numerous issues and stigmas surrounding mental health and deliver an exemplar service which supports local people, businesses and organisations."