On this page catch up on all the latest news on MHNE's activities,

MHNE e-bulletin for April 2021

Here's a link to MHNE's April 2021 e-Bulletin with news and articles relevant to the North East of England mental health sector.

  • This month we report on one of our Young People's Group who bravely spoke on BBC local radio about his experiences of depression during lockdown, and how speaking out to family and teachers at school led to a path of diagnosis and help to get well.
  • Mentally Sound reaches it's milestone 50th "Life in Lockdown" broadcast on Spice FM.
  • See inside also for more details of joining MHNE’s Replanting for a Better Future Project with contact details if you wish to book a place.

Final report from "100 Years of Progress" Women's Conference

MHNE were delighted to be able to act as lead organisation for the 100 Years of Progress conference on 20th October 2018 which celebrated women's struggle to be able to vote in elections. It was a pleasure to work with the various women's organisation who ensured great speakers, workshops, entertainment and catering and stands on the day as well as decorating Stanley Civic Hall to ensure it looked wonderful on the day.

Over 200 women and girls (aged from 5  to 80 years) attended and also some men attended. The event was noted for the warmth and enthusiasm of the participants and MHNE would like to thank the female members of our team who turned out in force to ensure this day was a fantastic success.

To read the short report for this event please follow this link.

MHNE to be official charitable partner of North East ladies team

We are delighted to be approached this month by Will Robinson from Billingham Synthonia Ladies Football Club who got in touch to ask if we would like to be charitable partner to the team for the next two seasons.

Mental health awareness is growing in sport among fans and players alike - just because someone is physically fit doesn't mean they're not suffering in other ways. Players deal with many forms of pressure on and off the pitch and "everybody is aware of somebody who is struggling" be it an eating disorder, depression or self-harm.  The club would like to make a positive contribution to mental wellbeing throughout the community.

MHNE will keep you abreast of sporting developments at the team - Billingham Ladies "The Synners" are currently in the DCFA Womens League 1 if you would like to follow their progress with us.

We hope to hear an interview with someone from the club on the Mentally Sound Radio show at some point in the new year. 


Feedback from our letter to North East MPs around improving mental health services

So far, four local MPs have been in touch to follow up on our campaign. Our original open letter to the region's MPs can be found here.

Alex Cunningham MP (Stockton North) committed to write to the Health Secretary about this. Alan Campbell MP (Tynemouth) has said he was pleased to lend support, writing to the Chancellor to ask as part of the Spending Review that he restore funding to mental health services in the North East and invest in mental health services going forward.

Peter Gibson MP (Darlington) contacted MHNE to request a phone conversation with our Chairperson, Neil Kelly.

Peter accepted that mental health is becoming a bigger issue evidenced by contacts with constituents during the pandemic. The issue of mental health has been raised many times in the house of commons and he affirmed that the government’s mission is to support mental health services and to raise them to the point of Parity of Esteem with those for physical health. He also said that there had been a number of funding decisions which had helped the NHS Mental health provision.

Neil put the point to him that there had been promises of “Parity of Esteem” since at least the days of the Cameron Government and raised some issues faced by voluntary organisations. Peter suggested that much had been done by the government to support voluntary sector organisations and that there were many sources of funding available for this. Peter further said that any organisations in his area experiencing difficulty should make him aware.

Finally he said that a Spending Review was imminent in parliament and we should look to this for the Government commitment to Mental Health. MHNE await the spending review with interest and will be publicising and requesting member's comments on that Review.Darlington VCO organisations who have an interest in mental health and are experiencing funding difficulties should contact Peter directly via his website.

Bridget Phillipson, MP for Houghton and South Sunderland and Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury responded with the following:

"I am incredibly grateful for the work of those organisations including your own, who do so much to prioritise the importance of good mental health in our community, and work to ensure the needs of people facing mental health issues are met, all undoubtedly in spite of the increased pressures and stretched resources that have been exacerbated because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. I also share your view that the current public health crisis has severe implications for mental health support; getting access to the right support is a process that can be difficult enough in ordinary times, but has now been made all the more challenging for many because of unprecedented disruption.

Recent ONS statistics show that almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020). There is a hidden mental health crisis taking place behind closed doors.
With this in mind, many will consequently be further suffering from the negative effects of job losses and closures within the mental health sector. And with NHS services stretched, those left without support rely on charities during times of crisis. It is now more important than ever that the Government take mental health seriously and provide the resources and facilities it needs. The Government's recent hospitals announcement was a missed opportunity to fulfil this, and it is an insult that mental health – which represents one quarter of all health need – again lost out.

I can assure you that I will continue to press the Government on this matter, to hold them to account on delivering the mental health services that the North East needs. 

Thank you again for writing to me.  Bridget Phillipson MP"

MHNE Summer and Young People's e-bulletins: June 2020

Here's MHNE's June 2020 Summer e-Bulletin with news and articles relevant to the North East of England mental health sector.

Updates on Mentally Sound, some lockdown diaries from our correspondents, news from across the sector and how we have been keeping busy.

We are also proud of our young people's group, who produced issue 5 of our Reach Out e-bulletin. The e-zine contains many short articles with their experiences of lockdown, being away from school and other perspectives of young people.

Please contact MHNE if you would like us to include your information, or spotlight your organisation in a future issues.

Greening the Gap—Appeal for help to make our training COVID-19 safe

We will be soon be launching the next phase of our overall Greening the Gap project which will take individuals and groups to enjoy a day in the countryside. However because of the current pandemic we need to put additional safety measures in place at our venue and would welcome and appreciate any donations of the following:

  • Timber -to construct safe distance potting stations of various sizes
  • Emulsion Paint – in door and out door for therapy and training rooms
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paving slabs
  • Door mats
  • Old greenhouse or shed
  • Water butts and guttering
  • Watering cans for adults and children
  • Stacking chairs
  • Paper cups, plates and disposable cutlery
  • Cleaning facilities ie Belfast sinks
  • Storage space

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you can assist us in any way to make this happen!

Roy’s April Planting Tips

with Roy White from Northern Aspects Landscaping

Now that mid spring is here, you can make use of the warmer weather by clearing out any old soil beds, borders and raised beds/planters ready to begin again.

Flowers like Hardy Geraniums, Nasturtiums and Alchemilla for example, which can withstand any late frosty mornings. Don’t be fooled into sticking all your newly purchased Bedding plants in just yet, in case there is one or two more cold nights to come!

You may have a large area in your garden that is not practical for proper use. Why not turn it into a Vegetable garden, or even have a section for Salad crops as well!

Preparing the soil well and making sure you have a good water source, you can plant straight into the ground, Beetroot, Carrots, Cauliflower, Lettuce, Leeks, Turnip and Onions. You may prefer to buy small veg plants already part grown, cultivating from seed is always cheaper and you have put the work in yourself, to achieve the goal of raising Seedlings.
For other Salad crops like Tomato and Cucumber, you will need a small Greenhouse or Polytunnel to get the best results. If you don’t have the space, a good size window in your home that lets in plenty of light would suffice.

Growing in a Raised Bed

A good use for a raised bed is for crops that need a good depth of nice soil and manure mixed together to aid good growth and crop yield.

Another use can be for an ornamental garden that gives you the ability to work at an easier height when maintaining what you have planted in it. You could have the bed as an exclusive wild flower haven for Insects and Bees without having to worry about them being cut down or trampled on by accident.

Raised beds can be built from a variety of materials in order to achieve the height you want, which can be a good way of re-using any rubbish you have earmarked for the tip!  Big planters in stone, wood, metal or plastic would do, even if you can only plant a few things in each. Try to grow enough in your raised beds to feed you and your family if space is an issue.
As I have mentioned above, you can grow all sorts outside in the soil of your raised beds and that includes fruit as well! Raspberries, blackcurrants, strawberries or gooseberries for example.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy the Physical and Mental benefits that gardening and growing your own brings!

Storms don’t stop Muddy Boots’ prep for spring trainees

georgeganderWe’ve had a busy time in recent weeks with some necessary tasks including clearing tree branches blown down by Ciara and Dennis, not to mention whole trees! One large silver birch managed to take out two smaller trees with it, so necessary urgent action was needed to minimise further damage.

Those two have also managed some minor damage to the polytunnel and they’ve up-ended the Portaloo. No worries though, nothing major and we’ll get some much needed late winter exercise and fresh air putting things right. Projects have also included installation of a footpath stile and demolition of a small haybarn. This work will allow us to prepare the site for improved facilities.

The gander, Lonesome George is still enjoying his role as greeter to our guest. Unfortunately, apart from his neighbours, (the chickens, Mr & Mrs G) he hasn’t much company. We launched a search for someone to spend more time with him- “respectable middle aged male goose, G.S.O.H. would like to meet similar female goose to share country walks, corn and maybe more…”

He has had some interest from a lady goose who is currently based in the Durham Dales, so watch this space.

The 2019 General Election and Mental Health - What do we want from a new Government?

At time of writing, the two main parties have not yet published their full election manifestos, so we are taking this opportunity to speak openly to candidates and pass on our own hopes and priorities.

Here are five issues important to MHNE which we would like to see on any agenda for change:

  1. Service user peer networks and workers funded in all regions of UK
  2. Non medical interventions such as access to the countryside and countryside activities to be funded as action research projects and findings published – in addition to social prescriptions
  3. Re-establishment of an effective CAMHS service— with investment in research and emphasis on prevention of childhood mental ill health
  4. Medications to be monitored and produced by a government run organisational
  5. All parliamentary papers on mental health to be written by Independent Organisations without interference from drug companies

The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute have published a manifesto (which MHNE would like to endorse) with five ways the next government should take action to boost the mental and financial wellbeing of people across the country. In it, they highlight the link between suicide and financial difficulty, suggesting that money advice be made available as part of NHS care and making it easier and safer for carers to support loved ones with money management.

They want to see more help for people with mental health problems to stay in work — and greater support for those too unwell to do so. Finally they are advocating for greater regulation to stop firms profiting from consumers’ poor mental health.

The Centre for Mental Health focuses on inequality:   "If the next Government is to make a real difference to the nation’s mental health, election promises and policy ideas need to look beyond the ‘one in four’ rhetoric to grapple with underlying inequality. It means tackling poverty, homelessness and school exclusions among the most disadvantaged and marginalised young people." Link here.

Mind say that real change is urgently needed, as people’s lives continue to be put at risk by overstretched services, outdated legislation and employment issues, crumbling NHS mental health buildings, and services that continue to struggle after decades of underfunding.  Here is their manifesto.