A busy time for mental health experts

A MENTAL health charity hopes 2012 will bring a turnaround in its finances after suffering savage budget cuts.

Hartlepool Mind had to axe half its 40-strong workforce and vital services last year in the wake of deep funding cuts.

But chief executive Iain Caldwell told how he is hoping to secure extra funding this year and deliver more services to vulnerable people struggling with a range of issues.

The charity is also reminding people that help is available as it experiences one of its busiest times of the year.

Mr Caldwell said its services are in high demand during January and February as people are faced with post-festive issues including debts and unemployment.

He said: “January and February is very busy when people are looking for support.

“Statistically, early January is the most depressing time of the year when people see the consequences of all they have spent.

“People are struggling with unemployment and paying debts and there can be family difficulties from over the festive period.

“There is help out there and it will make a difference.”

Mind, based in Tees Street, Hartlepool, helps people with mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, or depression through its Improving Access to Psychological Therapies service.

Vulnerable people referred to Mind are also assessed and directed to the right service through its Social Prescribing service.

Last year, the charity lost £128,000 of Government funding when the Working Neighbourhood Fund was axed during the spending cuts.

As a result, Mind had to reduce its service, which identifies people most at risk, by half.

Mr Caldwell added: “We are hopeful we can secure extra funding and deliver more services to people this year.

“There is more stress in society at the moment, with things like unemployment and mortgages being reclaimed so services are definitely needed, we just have to make sure we can provide them.”

Mr Caldwell said they also intend to make greater use of social media like Twitter and Facebook to help them reach more people.

“It should help us connect with people and get to a wider audience,” he said.