A young Bradford woman who used her experience of paranoid schizophrenia to help others and achieved a first-class degree last night won a Yorkshire Young Achievers award.

Eleanor Longden, 27, of Saltaire, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of 18. She was bullied by other students and began to harm herself.

She overcame her problems and graduated with the highest first-class degree in psychology to be awarded by the University of Leeds.

For the past four years she has worked for Bradford’s Early Intervention in Psychosis team and in 2006 she helped to establish the Bradford Self-Injury Service which provides treatment, support and advice to people who self-harm.

Miss Longden, who grew up in Bradford and attended Salt Grammar School, has contributed to several mental health textbooks and spoken at national and international conferences.

She is now studying for an MSc and plans to start a PhD next year.

She was named joint winner of the Achievement in Education Award for overcoming her problems to achieve academic success and making a huge contribution to the understanding of mental illness.

The awards, sponsored by McCormicks Solicitors of Harrogate, were announced at a ceremony at the Leeds United Conference and Exhibition Centre.

Peter McCormick, senior partner at McCormicks Solicitors, said: “Even after 17 years’ experience, the judging just goes on getting tougher and tougher.

“The nominations are always both inspiring and heart-rending and the stories of the winners are incredible.”

The awards scheme has so far raised more than £750,000 for Action for Children for projects in Yorkshire.