• North East Blue Light Cycling Challenge in May 2018

    To continue raising awareness during the Men’s Health Week 2018, we’ve discussed with John Smith, Police officer in Tyneside, about mental health in the emergency services and his journey as a fundraiser for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind.

    John, tell us more about the Mind Blue Light Programme and why you fundraise for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind

    No one should ever have to face a mental health problem alone. Yet, hundreds of thousands of people struggle daily. As a society, we have come a long way in the last 30 years. Our understanding of each other has improved, attitudes have changed (for the better) and support is growing.

    Still, one in four people experience a mental health problem each year – and only 25% receive support. Members of the emergency services are even more at risk of experiencing mental health problems but are less likely to seek support.

    Mind Blue Light Programme supports all emergency services across England and Wales – our journey is for those services in the North East, where we live, work and whose support we rely upon.

    In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges with mental health problems?

    It can be very difficult to know what to do to support someone with a mental health problem. Family, friends, carers often mean well but don’t always have the necessary information.

    Would you say that men in the emergency services are facing more difficulties than women when it comes to mental health?

    I can only offer an opinion as a man. The range of incidents and situations faced are no different but perhaps the negative attitudes to talking about mental health, particularly amongst males have historically made it more difficult.

    However, these are at last breaking down and we are at a moment in time where we can make a real difference to many people.

    What would you recommend to men facing mental health distress?

    It’s a really simple recommendation: try to find someone you can talk to, who you’re comfortable with. Share what’s going on!

    What are you doing to raise awareness?

    I ride with 7 colleagues and friends from Whitehaven to Tynemouth 120 miles on 5th May. This has taken us all on a physical and personal journey. None of us are professional cyclists, but we’ve been able to complete the challenge in one day as we hoped.

    Actively challenging mental health stigma, raising awareness and supporting people to make positive changes in their wellbeing is something we all feel strongly about.

    How did you organised this challenge?

    I always wanted to cycle the Coast to Coast.Doing it in a day with some great people was an opportunity to raise the profile of Blue Light and Mind locally - Northumberland and Tyneside Mind were the perfect match.

    I’m just about entered the "modern age", so having support to set up social media platforms to aid sponsorship was a real journey of discovery.

    Do you have any other projects to raise awareness?

    Yes, personally I do but they are early stages. I did think about a marathon or a 24 hour cycle ride but my body is saying "Just hang on a minute!". So I'll see. I will no doubt do something.

    How can people support the Blue Light campaign in the North East?

    It’s very simple. You can support us and the Blue Light campaign withTyneside and Northumberland Mind by donating on our JustGiving page HERE.

    Any last thoughts you'd like to share with our readers?

    Mental health really does matter – the more we talk about it, the less taboo it becomes.

    Generally, please think about the language you use. I still hear well intended people using "1970's language" when it comes to mental health. Mental health is not an adjective.

    If you want to know more about the North East Blue Light, please visit their website HERE.

    Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails.

    Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. It's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

  • Paul Meade shave and grow challenge on December 2017
    Caption: Paul Meade - December 2017

    To celebrate the Men's Health Week 2018, Paul Meade, Project Manager for the Newcastle Building Society, shares with you his story and his experience as a fundraiser with Tyneside and Northumberland Mind.




    Paul, tell us more about your fundraising challenge

    In December 2017, I’ve launch my fundraising challenge in aid of Tyneside & Northumberland Mind. I want to help raise funding for them, so that they can continue to support people in our region who suffer from mental health issues as well as providing training. My action also aims at raising awareness about mental health.

    “That’s why on the 30th of December I am shaving my hair off all the way down to the wood as  well as having a wet shave, then I’ll be leaving it to do its thing for a full year.”

    What's the story for you behind this challenge?

    We all know at least one person who has directly or indirectly suffered from mental health issues. It could be stress or depression related, anxiety or they could’ve decided that they wanted to take their own life.

    A friend of mine took his own life a while ago. This was also around the time that I was going through my own issues, I had someone to talk to and got help but there are loads of people out there that don’t get help, but it is out there.

    Why did you choose a shaving challenge instead of a marathon, a walk or other more usual challenges?

    There is an image I find powerful behind this shaving challenge. Throughout the year you’ll all be able to see the change that is happening to me on the outside, but you may not see the changes inside.

    “Mental health is hard to see. And in a year, you may not see the changes to a close friend or loved one.”

    Paul Meade shave and Grow Challenge

    Do you think there is a particular challenge around mental health and being a man?

    The challenge I see being the biggest is getting people to see and recognize that they are having mental health issues and also knowing where to go and who to speak to.

    What would you recommend to men facing mental health issues?

    Talk to people. I know it’s the hardest thing to do, but it’s the best thing and after you speak to someone help is so much easier to find and accept.

    Back to your challenge, was it easy to set up?

    It was so easy. Once I decided what I was going to do, I contacted Tyneside & Northumberland Mind and let them know. Then I linked my JustGiving page to theirs and started to promote it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The actual hardest part was convincing the wife to let me do it!!

    This is a long run challenge? How do you stay motivated?

    I post regular updates on social media and use a few hashtags. It’s amazing seeing some of the messages from people all over the world, people that have been through mental health struggles and overcame them.

    I’m also walking the length of Hadrian’s Wall in July and planning that’ll help me to stay focused. I see this as being a hard thing to do. Like mental health issues, the struggle can be hard and very long. But with support, you’ll get there in the end.

    Do you have any tips to share with people who’d like to launch their own fundraising challenge?

    Contact the local branch of who you decide to fundraise for. You will find them willing and more than able to help you with anything you need. In my case for my Wall walk, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind have sorted me out with a couple of T-shirts, a banner and some flags to fly as we do our walk. They also support me on Twitter.

    Any final words for our readers?

    Mental health should not be something that’s just left to fester, we ALL need support in our lives and by talking. Getting help from people just like Tyneside & Northumberland Mind can make a huge difference.

    If you’d like to follow my #shaveandgrow journey, then please follow me on Twitter @pauldmeade and Instagram @pauldmeade

    Donating through JustGiving is both easy and safe. So, you can also support me by clicking HERE.



Notices and promotions

  • Donate Online Now

Email newsletter

Your Details
Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gateshead NE8 4QL. Telephone: 0191 477 4545  Email: 
This website has been funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund
© Tyneside and Northumberland Mind 2014 - 2021. All rights reserved.
Registered office: Tyneside Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gatheshead NE8 4QL. Company Number: 7552434. Charity Number: 1140856.