new Living with Dementia Toolkit available

A new “Living with Dementia Toolkit” (December 2021), drawing on the findings of a major research project led by Exeter University, offers advice, resources and personal accounts in what adds up to a comprehensive guide to living as well as possible with the condition. This set of resources is based the expert experiences of people with dementia and their carers and aims to:

  •     give you hope for the future
  •     inspire you through examples of real-life experiences
  •     offer ideas to help you live your life as you choose

You can find the toolkit here:

The Criminal Justice System is failing people with mental ill health [Inquest response]

Following the damning HMI Probation joint inspection report on mental health across the criminal justice system (October 2021), INQUEST is calling for transformative change. Read their article on the inspection findings and their hopes for the future.

Inspectors identified a myriad of failings and stated that too little progress had been made since the last review in 2009. In particular, they highlighted the poor exchange of information between and within each element of the criminal justice system; the lack of training of staff on mental health issues; and the lack of timely, accessible, and adequate mental health support.

The orginal report can be found here:

Cook Yourself Happier

Catriona is the founder and creative force behind Cook Yourself Happier and got in touch to ask if she could tell us more about it.  

She started Cook Yourself Happier in 2016 using her experiences of food and cooking to help her manage her own Bipolar diagnosis.

She is a professional chef with over 20 years' experience in all catering environments from busy restaurants to a private chef for the rich and famous and has cooked in the UK and internationally.

Now she uses all of her expertise to help others through Cook Yourself Happier by crafting recipes which use ingredients proven to invoke a positive change in wellbeing and mental health. She also spreads the message about the link between food and mental health by writing articles which have been published by mental health charities and by organising cooking workshops around the UK to show that anyone, regardless of cooking experience can make delicious, healthy meals.

The content is primarily aimed at anyone in the UK or worldwide who suffers from any form of mental health issues at any time and who would like to improve their mental health via their diet. However, the content presented can and has been used by those without mental health conditions and anyone looking for healthy, nutritious food.

You can find out more here:

COVID-19: PHE mental health and wellbeing surveillance report - December 2020 release now live

The updated version of the Public Health England Covid 19 pandemic: mental health and wellbeing surveillance report is now live.  

Please access it at COVID-19 mental health and wellbeing surveillance report.

All chapters are updated and there is a new spotlight chapter on pre-existing mental health conditions

We also present routine data (with breakdown by population characteristic) on PHE’s Wider Impacts of COVID-19 on Health (WICH) monitoring tool.

[Survey] COVID-19 and Voluntary Sector Organisations: Impact and Response

COVID-19 is having a major impact on the entire Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector.To assess its effect on the sector, researchers have secured funding from Economic and Social Research Council to conduct an investigation into the way that COVID-19 is impacting the sector and how organisations are responding.

As part of the project, researchers will be conducting a monthly barometer which will run for 15 months, from mid-September 2020 to November 2021. This barometer is unique as the results will be publicly updated monthly.

Organisations can use the results to compare themselves against those of similar type and size. The barometer will have a dashboard, that allows organisations to see how their experiences compare to other organisations. This will help organisations better understand how they are doing and learn lessons from others.

Every month, organisations completing the survey will be entered into a prize draw to win £200. At the end of the project all participating organisations will be entered into a prize draw to win £2,000.

To find out more about this project, please contact the project team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or project lead Daniel King (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). To participate in the survey please visit COVID-19 and VCSE Organisations' Responses

Coronavirus information

MHNE have assembled a selection of relevent resources at the time of writing, including information, guidance and practical advice around coronavirus.  This information is updated but some links or information may have changed.  Please contact us via our contact form or on social medial if you have comments or suggestions.

Check our social media pages for recent updates - Twitter, Facebook.

COVID-19: Coronavirus latest information from the UK Government and NHS

General information from the NHS about preventing the spread and contraction of the virus, vaccinations and answers to commonly asked questions:


If you start to experience symptoms and believe you could have Coronavirus:
Contact your GP, visit http://NHS.UK/coronavirus or call NHS 111 to speak to someone for advice on what to do next.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested

Coronavirus Vaccinations: NHS information about the vaccinations and booking them

Protect yourself and others from Coronavirus :

  • Wear a mask or face covering on public transport and indoor spaces where there is greater risk of transmission.
  • Make sure indoor spaces are well ventilated
  • Observe physical distancing of at least 2m (6ft) and physical distancing to stop wider spread.
  • Use hand sanitiser if you're using public transport, out shopping for esentials etc. Wash your hands with soap more often than usual.

COVID-19: guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people

Spring 2021 - Roadmap out of Lockdown -

Information for the public from Government:

Collection of government guidance for various sectors:

Mental Health specific information

MH Support for NHS staff
Helpline and text service for NHS staff providing support, from coaching and bereavement care to mental health and welfare support.  Helpline 0300 131 7000 the 24/7 text helpline simply text FRONTLINE to 85258

North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network

Northern Mental Health Support (put together by Newcastle University with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW))

Coronavirus and your wellbeing (from Mind)

Looking after your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak

Public Health England - advice on mental health & wellbeing, including for people with specific mental health problems & on getting help in a crisis

FACE COVID - How to respond effectively to the Corona crisis - by Russ Harris, author of The Happiness Trap
Practical steps based on acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)

Every Mind Matters has now released expert advice and top tips on how to look after your mental wellbeing

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust - information on NHS mental health services from CNTW

Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Trust- for information on NHS mental health services from TEWV

Check NSUN on twitter for the latest updates on how changes to services and lockdown in the UK will impact mental health service users.

Financial, Housing and Money Related Information

This is a good resource from Durham County Council:

Citizen's Advice what it means for you

National Debtline Coronavirus Information and Fact Sheet

Moneysaving Expert Help and Rights

Covid-19: managing your mental and financial wellbeing

Shelter: Find out how coronavirus has affected housing legislation, benefits and your rights.

Coronavirus and benefits (useful summary of information from Newcastle City Council)

From the DWP - Coronavirus support for employers, benefit claimants and businesses

Please visit this DWP link for detailed and up to date changes - they are quite wide ranging:

Foodbanks or Meal services

Trussel Trust - Find a Foodbank:

Information Now - Newcastle based information about food

Food for vulnerable people - Commercial food access options.
Updated summary from DEFRA of supermarket and other food box scheme options.

Coronavirus - advice for VCSE organisations and fundraisers

VONNE have produced an excellent collection of advice and links for the community and voluntary sector, and to support a range of vulnerable groups and health conditions.

Government Guidance for the safe use of multi-purpose community facilities

VONNE has also opened up its funding pages to everyone. Funding Directory contains the details of more than 100 charitable trusts and foundations that are actively funding charities and community groups in the North East region.

Connected Voice - Advice and updates for the sector

Connected Voice have set up a funding page listing opportunities that are geared up to tackling the Covid-19 pandemic and supporting charities and community groups at this very difficult time. It's updated on a regular basis:

Durham Community Action - has produced guides for volunteers and volunteer providing organisations:
Covid-19 Advice for Volunteers
Covid-19 Good Practice Guide for Volunteer Involving Organisations

Grants Online - COVID 19 Latest Funding Updates (open access)

NCVO have also provided a useful resource.

NSUN is maintaining a national list of COVID-19 related funding sources here:

COVID-19: guidance for social or community care and residential settings

This guidance will assist social, community and residential care employers in providing advice to their staff on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19:

Guidance for hostel or day centre providers of services for people experiencing rough sleeping

Coronavirus advice and planning for people experiencing homelessness (Groundswell)

COVID-19 Advice for Asylum Seekers and Refugees

Services for asylum seekers and refugees updated due to Corona Virus (Covid-19).

North East Councils - Service Disruputions and Local Advice (eg. schools, social care)

Newcastle City Council

Durham County Council

Gateshead Council

South Tyneside Council

Sunderland Council

Northumberland County Council


COVID-19 Volunteering

NHS Volunteer Responders

This programme enables volunteers to provide care or to help a vulnerable person, which is permitted under the new rules announced by the Government on 23rd March 2020.  Signup here:

Newcastle City Council is seeking Volunteers

Citylife Line has been set up by Newcastle City Council for people wanting to volunteer their time while also providing a service for people to register their need for assistance.

North Tyneside - VODA Volunteers

Good Neighbours COVID-19 Volunteer Response - offer or receive help with shopping etc.

Mutual Aid UK Groups - National Community Support Network

A national page to coordinate the community organising to support the most vulnerable and isolated during the Covid-19 outbreak.  Check the page for groups in your area, there are already many across the North East.

People Together

Coronavirus and Human Rights (from NSUN)

Study: Mental Health Issues linked to Universal Credit

This month saw a Lancet publication of a research study of the Mental Health issues that have been linked to the introduction of Universal Credit.

Universal  Credit, as you probably know is the controversial welfare  benefit  reform  which began  to  replace  six  existing  benefit  schemes back in 2013,  starting  with  income-based  Job  Seekers  Allowance.

The study followed over 50,000 people for a ten year period, and findings  suggest  that  the  introduction  of  Universal  Credit  led  to  a clinically significant increase  in  psychological  distress, a measure of mental health difficulties, among those affected by the policy.

Their recommendation is that future changes to government welfare systems should be evaluated not only on a fiscal basis but on their potential to affect health and wellbeing.

Full study is available here:

MHNE Comment: Doctors tell parents to go private for children’s care

The Guardian reports that four in ten GPs are advising parents with children with mental health problems to go private because NHS services are overwhelmed. [Link to article]

In a recent survey, 43% of UK family doctors said that they had told parents whose children were struggling with anxiety, depression, self-harm or eating disorders  to seek treatment privately if they could afford it because NHS care is rationed and may involve 18-month delays.

Many GPs who took part in the research by charity stem4, criticised child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS).

Some had described the care provided as “dire”, “extremely lacking”, “non-existent” and “totally, horrifically, grossly inadequate”; one GP said “seeing a psychiatrist is more difficult than seeing the Pope”
GPs’ advice to go private has prompted concern that it results in a two-tier system in which children from poorer families are denied any care and leaves parents who can pay the fees involved confused as to which private mental health professional is best placed to help.

NHS England said: “Actually, record numbers of children and young people are being treated for mental health conditions, waiting times are improving significantly and the NHS is ahead of its target to treat 70,000 more children every year by 2021.

So, who do you believe?

Bipolar and Parenthood - Research Study

Aigli Raouna, a doctoral researcher at the University of Edinburgh is carrying out research which aims to understand how women with bipolar disorder and their partners experience parenthood.

  •     Would you like to share your parenthood journey?
  •     Are you over 18 years old and live in the UK?
  •     Are you either a mother diagnosed with bipolar disorder before becoming a mother?
  •     Or the partner of a woman diagnosed with bipolar disorder before becoming a mother?
  •     And is your first child under 5 years old?

This research will involve:

  •     A brief questionnaire and a one-to-one interview (face to face or via Skype)
  •     A £10 Amazon voucher as a thank you

A youtube video about the study can be found here:
If you or your partner would like to find out more details or you are interested to take part, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call +44 (0)754 836 7347.
This study has ethical approval. The participant information sheet can be downloaded here.

Prevention and mental health: free public health resource

Prevention and mental health:  Understanding the evidence so that we can address the greatest health challenge of our times by Dr. Antonis Kousoulis.

The Mental Health Foundation has published this excellent free resource for policymakers, health professionals, mental health advocates and their families and friends - visit this page to find out more and download this useful report.