As we mark 40 years of Mental Health Matters, some of our longest serving colleagues have shared their reflections on their time with the organisation.

Jane Chapman – Joined in 2000 (Pathways Newcastle)

"In 2000, I joined Pathways Newcastle, a mere five years after its inception. Despite my prior experience as a casual worker, I was a novice in benefits advice. Even then, it was evident to me that benefits advice was essential to ensuring people had the tools and support necessary to promote their recovery, live independently and have access to all the financial support that was available to them. And believe me, the benefits system was, and still is a complicated and unpredictable beast!

Now, 24 years later, I reflect on the countless changes we've witnessed. There’s been a lot of changes to the system, the team and ways of working, but each time our close-knit team have adapted and innovated to help those we support.

In 2019, we experienced profound gratitude when we witnessed firsthand the high regard in which the people we support, and the residents of Gateshead held our service. When plans were announced to cease our core funding and close our service, a consultation meeting was arranged, and we invited the people we help to support us. The overwhelming response was humbling. To see people who lived with their own mental ill-health advocating for our service and willingly telling their stories was the most amazing and inspiring testament to the impact we were making in people’s lives.

We’re still going strong to this day, providing much needed support to people living with mental ill-health, their families and friends."

Emma Rigby – Joined in 2005 (Helpline)

"I can't quite believe I’ve been here for nearly 20 years now! Back when I started, it was all about letters in the post and minicoms. Today, it’s more about text messages and online chats!"

Emma Blue – Joined in 2009 (North East Assistant Area Manager)

"Reflecting on my 15 years here, several moments stand out. Completing ASIST training in 2010 was a pivotal experience. Although new to Mental Health Matters and working with people with mental health needs, this suicide prevention training, was the most impactful I’ve ever completed. MHM then decided to deliver the training themselves and I became an ASIST Trainer!

The transition from Support to Recovery in 2015 marked a significant change. Initially as an Employment Worker at our Easington Employment service, I saw our services shift from merely supporting people and maintaining their mental health to actively assisting recovery. This change was challenging but ultimately, I believe that everyone saw the benefit in the changes that had taken place.

When I first started, we had to handwrite all our notes. We now use a CRM and these changes reflect our continuous adaptation to better serve our clients.

Over the years, I’ve seen many new services launch and others close. The closure of the Darlington Day Centre was particularly poignant. Although it wasn’t focused on recovery, we created a close-knit community through board games, bingo, music classes, and special events like Christmas dinners. Those memories remain cherished to me".

Victoria Jobson – Joined in 2012 (People Business Partner)

"One significant aspect for me was the loss and subsequent winning of our Sefton Talking Therapies service. Losing the service led to the downsizing of our central office team. However, winning more contracts, including Sefton again in 2020, allowed us to expand our central office resources again, highlighting the shifting, dynamic nature of our work and our resilience to setbacks."

As we celebrate MHM’s 40th birthday, these reflections from our colleagues underscore the dedication, adaptability, and impact of our team. Here’s to many more years of making a difference in the lives of those we serve.