BBC School Report 1



Mental Health North East visited Washington School today for an interview about mental health and their organisation in general. Pupils were also involved in interviewing several other charities including Streetwise, Waddington Street Centre and Washington Mind

MHNE is an organisation in the North East that helps charities for mental health.  Washington School students decided that they should do a story relating to Comic Relief, which was one week before News Day. They had a look on the Comic Relief website to find what kinds of charities benefit from the event. Mental health was one of the options. Washington Students found the Mental Health North East website and decided to contact them. They e-mailed them and they visited us on News Day for an interview.

The group work all over in the north east and help 368 mental health organisations. They help and support other organisations, mostly with their website. The £400 million that has been set aside by parliament for mental health services isn’t as much as you think even though it seems like a lot since it has to be shared all over the country and it has to be used for doctors and other health issues, it isn’t a lot for mental health. When questioned about the €35 million outlined in the 2013 budget Ali Lee from Waddington Street Centre (a charity that MHNE support) in County Durham said it was a ‘token gesture’ by the government, although she also acknowledged that it was a step in the right direction.

MHNE do not get any money from Comic Relief. They have tried to apply before but were unsuccessful. One reason is that they help other organisations and they don’t help people directly so Comic Relief tends to look over them. Neil Kelly stated that they were counting in months if funding does not improve.

MHNE help over 360 organizations by providing training and other events for everyone. They help around 36,800 people a year, indirectly. They also have a lot of volunteers to work for them. One of their roles is that they sometimes take calls from people who are in distress, sometimes getting calls off people who say they want to end their own life. All the employees have been trained to try and prevent this. They then contact a professional or the police.

They have a few problems and ways to make their jobs easier but most of them include funding, which is very hard to get nowadays. So hard in fact that mental health charities can sometimes refer to themselves as Cinderella Services, forgotten or remembered last by the government. Their overall goal is to improve mental health in the north east and work with schools, colleges, hospitals and other organisations. They want to help everybody, not just by treating people but getting everybody involved.

As well as MHNE pupils also spoke to Tracy, the counselling manager from Streetwise which is a charity based in Newcastle Upon Tyne who work with any person between the ages of 11 – 25.

Most of Streetwise’s funding is used for staff salaries, for the building and all the costs within the building (e.g. water, electric, heating) and they have also just moved so it has been quite financially stressful recently.

Streetwise provide support for people who have sexual health problems and they also help people with mental health problems and emotional difficulties.

If they can’t provide the services people need they will refer them to a specialist or higher authority.

Streetwise are very lucky as they get funding from Comic Relief. They get funding over a period of three years (starting in September this year) they get £120,000 over the whole three years and they get £40,000 each year, despite this Streetwise are like MHNE and the rest by their need for money being really high.

Streetwise are mainly online which is one of the reasons they were given funding by Comic Relief and Children in need. They also have ways to connect to people like Skype and instant messaging.

When questioned about the funding mental health charities receive Sharon Hodgson MP said “The government’s budget for mental health treatment has decreased in real terms for the second year running. I believe this is short sighted, as a lack of treatment now will lead to much higher costs in the future.”

By Joe and Nathan


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