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  • Picture of Gordon Allan

    There is still so much stigma around suicide, which can make it difficult to talk about for those affected. One of our ambassadors, Gordon Allan, shares his story, and calls for all of us to be more open to talking about the subject of suicide. 

    Over four years ago, on Boxing Day 2015 my wife Sally took her own life. She died because she had a mental illness. Every day since, I wish she had reached out and spoken to someone. Why didn’t she speak to a doctor, talk to a friend; or what hurts the most ask for my help.

    As someone, told me at the time “you can be surrounded by love but the mind can be a lonely place at times”. I often reflect on those wise words. I think all of us have been in that place, if only for a few hours. A time when we struggled with our thoughts and feelings and convinced ourselves that nobody cared or understood us. Trapped In silence, day after day, it must have taken great strength for Sally to mask her inner turmoil. In the end she just ran out of energy to keep going.
    Why did Sally stay silent? I will never know for sure, but I believe she feared the stigma of admitting she was struggling with her mental health. As a loving, caring grandmother, mother and wife Sally believed it was her role to look after the family. Admitting she couldn’t cope she feared being judged and rejected as a failure. She feared being worthless.
    It is best explained by someone who wrote to me at the time. The person, had nearly taken their own life 10 years earlier, having been in "the dark void of depression" this is what they wrote:

    "I knew in that very confused mental state, that my family would be so much better off without me. Feelings of absolutely zero self-esteem and depression do that to a person.”

    Soon after I received that letter, I knew I had to campaign to end the stigma that surrounds suicide. I want people to understand that suicide, isn’t a single brief moment in time, but a painful journey. A journey, that with the right help, support and interventions can be stopped and reversed.

    The 2014 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Study found that a fifth of adults aged over 16 in England have thought of taking their own life at some point in their lives and that almost 7% have made an attempt. Why do we feel so uncomfortable talking about suicide when it is affecting one in five of us? That has to change, encouraging people to seek help and talk about their suicidal thoughts whilst educating people on how to support those that do.

    I am therefore proud to be a member of the recently formed North East and North Cumbria Suicide Prevention Network, a partnership of public, private and charitable organisations and individuals, collaborating with different agencies and communities to help and support all suicide prevention activity across the region. The Network which includes the Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust it is linking up best practice across the region. It wants to end the postcode lottery and bring the best quality care and support wherever you live. It wants to end the silence that prevents people getting the help they deserve. Please visit www.stopsuicidenenc.org to learn more.

    For example, the Network now has a Suicide Prevention Co-ordinator working within the police who alerts services and gets support to those who need it the most whenever someone attempts to take their own life. That early intervention can save lives and bring support to those bereaved by suicide.

    The network also promotes the free Zero Suicide Alliance online training. So, if you want to support this week’s Suicide Prevention Day, please visit their website at www.zerosuicidealliance.com . There are some excellent, short online training modules. The ten or twenty minutes you take to visit the site could one day save the life of someone you care about.

    Having the confidence to talk about suicidal thoughts does save lives. Suicide is a journey that can be stopped, if we all take the time to help each other. I am sure Sally would agree.

  • Tyneside and Northumberland Mind are proud to announce that we have been awarded the Mind Quality Mark (MQM). The MQM is a robust quality assurance framework created by National Mind, the leading mental health charity.

    MQM sets out the baseline of best practice and legal compliance in all areas of a local Mind’s governance and activities. To achieve the MQM, a local Mind must meet or exceed all 24 key standards.

    The process is a rigorous assessment which includes a detailed appraisal of organisational policies and procedures as well as a visit and interviews with trustees, staff, volunteers and people who use services.

    The MQM is awarded when all standards are fully met, providing assurance that local Minds across England and Wales are well-run.

    Organisations who meet Mind’s expectations of good practice, and in many cases excel beyond those expectations. It provides assurance that they are healthy, ambitious and strong in providing the highest quality support to people experiencing or at risk of developing mental health problems.

    Our CEO Alex Wilson said: "I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded the Mind Quality Mark, this has been down to the hard work and dedication of the team in such challenging times. This shows that our organisation provides fantastic high-quality services for those who need us most, supporting people with their mental health."

  • Runners won’t be together on the start line, there won’t be thousands cheering you on…but you can still run your very own Great North Run and fundraise to support Tyneside and Northumberland Mind in reaching our £30,000 goal.

    What is the Virtual Great North Run?

    The Great North Run have launched a virtual running campaign to ensure runners and charities can still mark the occasion. The ‘Official’ Virtual Great North Run will be a unique virtual half marathon race experience on the weekend that would have been the Great North Run weekend.

    The event is free to participate in and is open for all runners or walkers, whether they had a Great North Run place or not. If you raise more than £10 for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind you will also receive a Virtual Great North Run t-shirt and Certificate.

    Why we need your support

    The Great North Run is an important day in the calendar for the North East, competitors, spectators and many others, but in particular for local charities like Tyneside and Northumberland Mind.

    We rely on local fundraisers like you to help us continue supporting people across Tyneside and Northumberland with their mental health. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of fundraising events to be cancelled, at a time when our services are needed more than ever.

    Our dedicated runners raised a total of £30,000 for us last year. With your help and support and through the Great North Run Reimagined campaign, we’re hoping to still raise vital funds for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind to help us fund local mental health services.

    We are encouraging everyone who takes part in the Virtual Great North Run to fundraise for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind as we would otherwise miss out this year.

    How to sign up

    Entries are now open! Sign up here to join us on the virtual start line and you too can chose to support Tyneside and Northumberland Mind in your challenge.

    When you sign up, simply choose Tyneside Mind as your charity and encourage your friends, family and wider supporter network to rally behind you as you embark on your virtual Great North Run experience.

    Setting up your Fundraising Page

    To get started, just visit our Justgiving Event Page here, and click "Start Fundraisng". If you'd like some support in getting set up, our Fundraising Team are happy to help. Just give us a call on 0191 477 4545, or email the team at fundraising@tynesidemind.org.uk


    Contact us to find out more.

  • 29 November 2019

    RED January 2020

    When it comes to the New Year we all start off with the best intentions of going to the gym, cutting back on junk food and being more active, but in reality, most of us go back to old, familiar habits within a couple of weeks. January can often feel a bit flat after the hustle and bustle of Christmas and we find it difficult to motivate ourselves during the cold, winter months which in turn, can lead to a decline in our mental health.

    As a mental health charity, we’re constantly looking for different ways to improve the health and wellbeing of our community, which is why we’re delighted to be involved again with RED January! It’s such a positive way to start the new year by getting active and also if you choose to, raise funds for Tyneside and Northumberland Mind along the way.

    RED January (which stands for Run Every Day) was dreamed up by Hannah Beecham in 2016 after she saw how the positive effects of regular exercise helped her mother recover from severe depression. A regular exerciser herself, she and her mother signed up to do a walking marathon and by leaving the house each day to train, her mother started to notice a change in her mood, raised energy levels and after a while, her symptoms gradually decreased. The physical act of exercising along with the sense of achievement from setting a goal and sticking to it helped to transform her mother’s mental health.

    Noticing the boost that exercise gave, Hannah began to look into other schemes available to people like her mother, but unfortunately noticed a distinct lack of activities. This is when she came up with the idea of RED January, a community initiative to help people support their mental health by adding exercise into their daily lives.

    Last year, we were overwhelmed with the success of the campaign and are thrilled to be part of it once again. Research shows the positive impact that exercise can have on mental health and we also have a private Facebook group where participants can go for exercise ideas, burning questions and to find motivation on those days when you’d much rather stay in bed! It’s a fantastic, online community of like-minded individuals who just want to be more active and support others with the same goal.

    While fundraising isn’t necessary to take part, if you’d like to register to become a fundraiser click on this link: https://tynesideandnorthumberlandmind.redjanuaryformind.co.uk/ which will take you to our dedicated homepage. From there you’ll be able to download a guide and will also have the opportunity to buy an exclusive RED January 2020 t-shirt (with a handy calendar on the back that you can check off as you go through the month) and/or a sports snood to keep you warm on those early morning escapades. There is no minimum age to join in but under 16’s should get permission from a parent or a guardian. There are also no limits on what activity you do. It doesn’t have to be running, (because let’s face it, not everyone enjoys pounding the pavement), you can go walking, cycling, swimming, do yoga, weightlifting, whatever activity you enjoy that will get you up and moving. Some of our participants last year even went roller-skating!

    Exercising can have so many benefits for both your mental and physical health but it is important not to go past your limits. While the aim of the movement is to be active for 31 days, this doesn’t mean you have to go for a 10-mile hike every day! Recovery is just as necessary as action so a gentle walk or a leisurely swim can help you keep moving while giving your body a short and well-needed break.

    We are genuinely excited for this coming January as we all loved taking part in RED January 2019. The camaraderie and positive attitudes of all those taking part, made those days when it was just a bit harder to get going a little easier.

    Did you know, it only takes 30 days to create a habit? If you decide to get involved with RED January think about what that could mean for the next 335. The possibilities are endless!

  • 19 September 2019

    North East Skinny Dip 2019

    Skinny dipping might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think about the North Sea (not the warmest place for a swim), but for the past seven years that’s exactly what’s been happening. On the 22nd of September over 600 people will be stripping off and going for a plunge in the early hours of the morning at Druridge Bay in Northumberland – all in the name of charity and self-love.

    The North East Skinny Dip stemmed from the mind of Jax Higginson, an experienced sea swimmer, who delights in completely immersing herself in the water which, she says her body craves. Having taken part in a skinny dip herself, she wanted to share the feelings of pure joy and freedom that she found with others, helping them to embrace themselves in all of their beautiful glory! The skinny dip combines everything Jax loves most; the sea, making a difference, being naked and doing something absolutely crazy and wild.

    While September may not seem like the best month to get naked in the North East, it’s purposely planned around the Autumn Equinox to help aid the transition from summer to winter. It allows us to give thanks for the cleansing warmth of summer and welcome in the refreshing cold of winter, which can often be a difficult time for people; the dark, cold nights and lack of sunshine can take a toll on our mental health.

    Jax hopes that holding this event can help fight the stigma that mental health and body image still unfortunately have and fight against the social norms. She wants it to be a celebration of life, nature and our own fabulous, unique bodies that are all beautiful no matter what flaws we think we have. It’s Jax’s belief that practicing self-love can promote healing and inner peace and is very much connected to mental health. An improvement in mental health and self-love can make us happier, more productive, loving, peaceful and playful human beings.

    Past participants have described the dip as invigorating, fun and helped improve their mental health and confidence in their bodies. Knowing that they’re not the only ones feeling uncomfortable or self-conscious makes them realise that they’re not alone. There are people who feel the same way and also others out there, like Jax, who are there to listen and help. There’s no judgement in the dip, only acceptance, self-expression and freedom!

    Since the first dip back in 2012, the NESD has managed to raise over £40,000 for National Mind which is an incredible amount of money! This year however, all of the proceeds from fundraising and pledges will go to us, Tyneside and Northumberland Mind, meaning that every penny raised will go towards strengthening local mental health services for people like you. We could not be any more grateful for the support from Jax and all of the participants for taking the time and having the courage to bare their bits and be seen. We’ll be right there with them!

    If you’d like to know more about the North East Skinny Dip or would like to make a pledge to the brave dippers, please click the link below.

    http://bit.ly/NorthEastSkinnyDip2019

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Registered office: Tyneside Mind, Wellbeing Centre, Dunsmuir Grove, Bensham, Gatheshead NE8 4QL. Company Number: 7552434. Charity Number: 1140856.