Introducing the 2022 Social Health Awards Winners!
Published August 25th, 2022
The Social Health Awards is the only awards program that truly recognizes health leaders for their hard work and dedication to drive meaningful connections and conversations through social health—the dynamic, real-time action people take to find meaningful connections and share information that impacts the health journey.
Keep scrolling to meet the outstanding 2022 award winners, who represent the wide range of patient leaders Health Union can connect you with through our extensive Social Health Network.
Advocacy Trailblazer: Melissa Talwar
Melissa’s chronic pain journey began at the age of 14, and after a long 20 year decline and a laundry list of diagnoses, she took her health into her own hands. Through biohacking, she has reclaimed wellness again and is focusing her energy on building the nonprofit organization, Support Fibromyalgia Network, and sharing group health coaching with the chronic illness communities. #SupportFibro believes in collaboration. It is dedicated to bringing the fibromyalgia community together through patient and medical education, advocacy training, health coaching, and support for fibromyalgia research.
Melissa is a Board Certified Functional Medicine Health Coach, Certified Wahls Protocol® Health Professional, a ReCODE 2.0 coach (Bredesen Protocol), and has a Master’s in Neuroscience.
Best Team: Fibromyalgia Care Society of America
Caregiving Champion: Elle Cole
Community Cultivator: Natalie Hayden
Creative Contributor: Erica Carrasco
Healthcare Collaborator: Ella Balasa
Ella was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at 18 months old. Despite having 25% lung function, Ella has never let it be her excuse. She is a writer, patient advocate, and scientist who graduated with a degree in biology and has worked in an environmental microbiology lab.
Over the past few years, Ella has become increasingly involved in the CF community. She has found opportunities to serve on research committees and organize a research-focused CF virtual conference. Through her writing, she has been able to provide a scientific voice and encourage empowerment to the CF community, along with sharing the hardships and triumphs that come along with a chronic illness.
Lifetime Achievement: Kristal Kent
As an army veteran, Kristal engages in legislative and healthcare advocacy to help the fibromyalgia/veteran communities better understand their illness, educate individuals on Patient Healthcare Rights, help individuals apply for disability benefits, review best practices to advocate for their healthcare needs, and promote fibromyalgia support and awareness on social media.
Kristal utilizes social media to provide her communities with up to date information and research, connect individuals living with fibromyalgia/chronic pain throughout the world, and helps build their support networks. She is also the founder of The Fibromyalgia Pain Chronicles and of Veteran Voices For Fibromyalgia.
Revolutionary Researcher: Aaron Blocker
Aaron Blocker lives with Crohn’s Disease and an ultra-rare genetic metabolic bone disease called Hypophosphatasia. Over the last 10 years, Aaron has been heavily involved in patient advocacy related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), building an online community of more than 30,000 patients and caregivers who have been affected in some way by IBD. His goal has always been to make sure the patient voice is heard in any and all decisions that affect patients.
Aaron likes to use his background in scientific research to break down those hard-to-understand topics related to the disease so that patients can understand the most recent research and breakthroughs. After being diagnosed with his ultra-rare case of Hypophosphatasia in 2017, his advocacy shifted to include the rare disease community.
Rookie of the Year: Jill King
Jill began experiencing chronic pain the month she graduated high school and become blind at 20 years old. Through her challenges, she has been able to find the disability community and find ways to thrive. She educates and advocates on her own social media and writes about her experiences with disability and chronic illness online.
Currently studying psychology at Georgia Southern University, Jill is also the President of the the Students with Disabilities Advocacy Group. The group has advocated for accessibility on campus and within the surrounding rural area and educates people on various conditions and sections of disability, including blindness and chronic pain.
Social Media Master: The Invisible Hypothyroidism
Rachel Hill AKA The Invisible Hypothyroidism is a highly ranked and award-winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, blogger, speaker and author. Appearing on podcasts, in interviews, and writing for many well-known websites, she has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, The BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, and MSN, to name just a few. She began her thyroid advocacy journey in 2015 following the diagnosis of autoimmune thyroid disease after many years of frustration and missed opportunities.
Rachel is well-recognized as a valuable contributor to the thyroid community, having published two books: “Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate” and “You, Me and Hypothyroidism.”
Congratulations to all of the 2022 winners!
Thank You to Our Industry Judges
Last but not least, thank you to our amazing healthcare industry judges for sharing your time and expertise to evaluate the inspiring contributions of our patient leaders and role models. Your support and dedication in recognizing and embracing patient centricity and voice of the patient has a meaningful impact on millions of people living with chronic and complex conditions. From the entire team at Health Union, we appreciate you and thank you for your commitment!
The winners will be honored in person at the Fierce Pharma Marketing Awards during Digital Pharma East in October 2022.