Letter to North East MPs : Funding Alert Sounded across the North East Mental Health Sector

MHNE have written an open letter to every MP in the North East to express our grave concerns about what we feel are the poor state of mental health services in the region today.

Since MHNE began in 2005 we have heard many words from politicians about how they are/were going to support and improve mental health services but we have witnessed little improvement. We have seen money moved from one location to another and described as new money but have seen no real new investment. We have witnessed waiting lists grow and we have seen one voluntary sector service after the other close.

There is still excellent work going on in the NHS, local government and in the voluntary sector but it feels as if the Government are acting in a piecemeal fashion to a real crises in the mental health sector as a result of COVID. Already stretched and underfunded services are finding it extremely difficult to cope with increased demand.

We will publish all responses from MPs in full and will indeed inform you if we do not receive a response. MHNE welcome your views on this matter.

Here is a copy of the text of our letter:

Mental Health North East is a small volunteer run charity covering the North East region. We are writing to you as a North East MP to request that you actively support our campaign for improved mental health services in the North East region.

Coronavirus has created a crisis, and after it has passed there will be further crises which impact every aspect of community and society:  an economic crisis, an unemployment crisis, a public health crisis, an education crisis, a social care crisis, a loneliness crisis, a domestic violence crisis, a child abuse crisis, an addiction crisis, a mental health crisis.
Mental Health voluntary organisations are experiencing massive growth in demand for listening and support services to the point where budgets are stretched to extremes. These organisations are dealing with a tidal wave of callers overwhelmed by stress and anxiety which are appropriate responses to extremely challenging circumstances.

Severe acute conditions caused by grief, loss and hopelessness will become part of the natural pattern of afflictions. There are catastrophic funding implications for the Voluntary and Charity sector that will see many well-established charities and safety nets broken and disappearing altogether. As you will know, the sector is already covering for ever-diminishing community provision from cash strapped local authorities and statutory health providers.

The effect of lockdown alone will be sustained and significant. Incidents of domestic violence and domestic homicide have already increased. As will child abuse, family breakdown, child distress, suicide, alcohol and drug use, physical health difficulties, poverty, homelessness, isolation, and the impact of a collective, worldwide trauma. Groups that suffer the disproportionate burden of multiple disadvantages will be further hit by an impact that we anticipate will be extreme and prolonged.

Social distancing and intermittent lockdown will likely be with us long after this initial battle. We witnessed a beleaguered NHS buckling under the demands of saving lives in this first wave.  The second and subsequent waves will make the same demands of public health, social care, mental health, and education.  As feeling distressed becomes the norm, existing mental health conditions have been exacerbated on a vast scale.

Mental Health North East therefore calls upon the UK Government:
To restore the funding lost to the mental health services in the North East and other areas of the UK. Underfunding of mental health services has resulted in huge financial losses to the UK in terms of additional support services but also has a huge economic impact on business and this has directly and indirectly resulted in preventable suicides. The current pandemic is making this situation much worse. To invest money in mental health services will not only alleviate the suffering of many people but could also save money in the long term.


New helpline launched by North East charity to support prisoners’ families

A new helpline has been launched to support  people in the North East navigating their way through the criminal justice system. 

Nepacs (a north east charity)  introduced the new helpline to offer information and support to individuals, their families and loved ones at the point of arrest, at court, throughout a prison sentence, and on release. Their friendly team of helpline volunteers are available to offer a listening ear to those who need someone to talk to, and provide important information about processes and next steps.

The new helpline is part of the charity’s ‘Early days in custody’ project which is funded for three years by National Lottery Reaching Communities fund and a legacy gift donated to Nepacs from the Newcastle and Northumberland Police Courts Mission Fund.

The helpline team can be contacted by: Freephone 0800 012 1539, Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Text 07983 437 457 and is open: Monday and Friday 12noon - 8pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am - 2pm.
The,helpline coordinator Emma Price, said: “The first few days when a loved one is sent to prison can be the most difficult and distressing time for everyone involved.
“The new helpline will enable us to help those  in the north east impacted by a loved one being sentenced to custody and trying to come to terms with the difficulties they are facing, such as problems with housing, finances, children, and health and wellbeing
“Our helpline volunteers work closely with our teams in north east courts, prisons and visits areas, and our youth project team to ensure families or friends are offered the support they need to get through this difficult time and are signposted to relevant services in the community which can help them.”
Nepacs is recruiting more volunteers to join the helpline team.  Volunteers will enable families to feel informed as they navigate their way through the criminal justice system, and will help people to stay connected in this challenging situation. If you are friendly, non-judgemental, patient and have excellent listening skills the charity would love to hear from you. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Nepacs volunteer coordinator at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 0191 375 7278.
For more information about the support available to families or friends with a loved one in a north east prison please visit the Nepacs website www.nepacs.co.uk

North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network – Website Launch

The North East and North Cumbria’s Suicide Prevention Network website is now live, covering the whole North East and North Cumbria area.

The website will provide resources for people seeking help about suicide and mental wellbeing and for people who work in suicide prevention. It will also include guidance for those who have been bereaved by suicide. Making good information easily accessible to those who need it is one of the Network’s key objectives.

The Network’s ‘Every Life Matters’ campaign aims to stop losing lives to suicide. This complements the national Public Health England Every Mind Matters programme, which is part of the public health priority to focus on the general mental health and wellbeing of the wider population.

During the current crisis, it’s even more important that we look after our mental health and wellbeing. The North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network is a regional partnership of organisations and individuals, collaborating across different agencies and communities, to help enhance and support all suicide prevention activity across the region. The Network works across the NHS, social care and other front-line services to link up with local charities and community resilience groups co-ordinating efforts to get support and information to those who need it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The Network is focused on people in our communities who are more at risk and are struggling and may be at an increased risk because of the current situation.  

To reach those vulnerable members of the public who may not have access to online support, the Network have commissioned Every Life Matters Cumbria to produce a booklet which contains self-help information and links for mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 outbreak, including signposting for urgent support and suicide prevention. This will be available across the region with distribution following a phased approach, initially targeting vulnerable groups.

The Network aims to:

• Promote wellbeing and resilience
• Reduce the number of suicides, including in high-risk groups, across the ICS
• Reduce the incidence of self-harm and repeated self-harm
• Reduce the impact of self-harm and suicide
• Reduce the stigma of self-harm and suicide

For further information visit www.stopsuicidenenc.org

Twitter @StopSuicideNENC
Facebook  StopSuicideNENC
Instagram  StopSuicideNENC

Northern Mental Health Support website launches

The Northern Mental Health Support web site has been put together by Newcastle University in partnership with Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW). The aim of the site is to help any individual or family struggling with issues of social isolation, particularly as we all struggle with the coronavirus pandemic.


On the site you will find advice, resources and links around how to maintain your mental health, exercise, socialising (at a distance), dealing with financial problems as well as a section specifically on resources in the CNTW Trust footprint in North Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear.

There is also a section where you can provide feedback and suggestions of additional resources and ideas that could be added to the site.

North East Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund - Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland

Through the Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund, we will award grants to local charities and community organisations across Tyne & Wear and Northumberland in two stages: response, then recovery. In the response stage, we will get extra money to organisations that we know are supporting older people and other vulnerable groups affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. In the recovery stage, we will fund a wider group of local charities and community organisations whose operations and finances have been affected so they can recover and continue their activities once the outbreak eases.


We will work to make sure the fund reaches the communities that need the most support. We are in touch with local charity umbrella bodies and front-line organisations to see what’s needed and how funds can be spent. From our 30 years’ plus experience, we know a lot of these organisations and so will quickly be able to assist them. We expect the first wave of funding will go to organisations working with older people who are likely to be most seriously affected by social isolation and illness caused by the virus.

Direct link to the Just Giving page:


Sensory Garden at Darlington Mind

Darlington Mind is a mental health charity which promotes health and wellbeing to assist those experiencing mental distress and want to improve their lives.  The organisation runs a wide range of activities including a gardening group and dementia day-care service.

They are pleased to have recently accepted two occupational therapy students from Teesside University to assist the team. The students will be running a project to establish a sensory garden, at Mind’s Darlington Town Centre site. This aims to benefit people accessing existing services and the wider community. This includes bringing people closer together (particularly those suffering from dementia), providing them with a safe place to engage in activity and stimulate their senses.

Darlington Mind want to involve local people in the development of the sensory garden; including care homes, local charities and individuals who wish to be involved. They is looking to run regular cognitive stimulation sessions within the garden to provide relief, relaxation and mindfulness.

They would be pleased to hear from individuals, families, local care homes and charities who are interested in being involved. For more information please contact - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call our reception on 01325 283169.

MHNE Training at GMB Regional Equalities Conference

Report from MHNE Volunteer Janice Docherty

On Wednesday 9th October, I attended the GMB Regional Equalities Conference with Neil and Lyn. I've managed MHNE information stall on a couple of occasions but this time was a bit different.

The conference was attended by GMB members from across the region, the GMB General Secretary Tim Roche and Regional Secretary Billy Coates. Tim spoke about his past Mental Health issues and the importance of talking about it.
Lyn and Neil had agreed to deliver a Mental Health training session and the stall was in the same room as the training which gave me an ideal position to both listen, learn and watch people’s reactions.

After a quick introduction was the quiz, not just a bit of fun but a way to judge your understanding of mental health and the wider implications of the conditions people live with. As the quiz progressed, it was fascinating to see that the majority of participants knew some of the answers, but others were received with shock! These answers created a lot of discussion. The rest of training was brilliant, an extra bonus for me volunteering this morning.

When the training was complete all three of us were inundated with questions from attendees, an indication how successful the training was—and no the pens didn't go first! Sign up for our bulletins was the highest of any event and the evaluation forms gave the session a resounding “excellent”.

It was encouraging to meet so many like-minded GMB members who recognise the importance of supporting peoples Mental Health in the work place and beyond.  I would recommend this training on Mental Health to any organisation.  A big thank you to all at the GMB for the invitation.

MHNE Feature in ITV News Report - Men's Mental Health

MHNE volunteer and creator of Cornerstone Sensory Garden, Ernie Malt has appeared on the regional ITV news last night ahead of World Mental Health Day to talk about men's mental health:

Ernie Malt on ITV - Men's Mental Health


The short report by Kris Jepson highlights the some of the stark statistics in the North East, being well above the national average for male suicide - and the great work that peer support groups such as ManHealth have been doing to get men talking about their mental health.

NCVS Canary in the Mine Report

This report published at the end of last month provides the most recent and comprehensive health check available of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Gateshead and Newcastle. It includes survey responses from 118 local organisations.  

Amongst the feedback and concerns raised, the report found most strikingly the normalisation of poverty, the acceptance of foodbanks and the role of charities and communities organisations in trying to step in to those areas where the state no longer provides support. NCVS say “this is not sustainable and the cracks are obvious”.

“The retraction of the state, particularly in mental health and social services, is getting worse as authorities revert to providing ‘only statutory services’. More time is now spent in advocating for public services for people who should receive them.”

If you haven’t read it yet, there’s plenty to digest—view the full report here.

Your Invitation to Workshops on Crisis Care

In the next few years there will be increased investment in Mental Health Crisis Care across the country to provide new services and improve existing ones. In this region North East together have been asked by The North East Clinical Network to organise and run a series of workshops to find out what matters to people with lived experience of mental health conditions when it comes to Crisis Care. The discussions at the workshops will help influence the provision of future crisis services.

There are three workshops organised so far which are as follows

Newcastle- Monday 19th August 1pm to 4pm at ReCoCo, Anderson House, Market Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6XA, telephone 0191 2610948

Durham- Wednesday 28th August 1pm to 4pm at The Waddington Street Centre, 3 Waddington Street, Durham, DH1 4BG, telephone 0191 3860702

Middlesbrough- Thursday 5th September 1pm to 4pm at St Marys Centre, 90 Corporation Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 2RW, telephone 01642 249456

All three workshops will have the same format so if you would like to attend please pick whichever venue is most convenient for you.

At the workshops lunch and refreshments will be provided as will reasonable travel expense.

If you have any questions or wish to give apologies please contact Mish Loraine at North East together - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / 07902 403630.