South Shields mental health author speaks about the difficulties residents face during Christmas period
A South Shields motivational speaker and businessman who is to release a book dealing with his own mental health struggles has spoken of the difficulties many borough residents face during the Christmas period.
The book covers Paul Mort’s journey since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder a number of years ago. He has since championed the issue of mental health among men.
A video he made on the subject – directly addressing his own recovery from suicidal tendencies – which went viral a number of years ago has been watched by almost 6 million people.
The father of two told The Gazette how tough the Christmas period can be - during years filled with considerably less upheaval than 2020 - for many residents in borough and the region, revealing that he reached breaking point in his own mental health battles at year’s end upon returning to his hometown six years ago.
"In 2014, after years of living abroad and partying, I came back to South Shields following the diagnosis,” he said.
"17th December that same year was probably my lowest-ever point. That was the day I stood on the cliffs, opposite where the cannon is, ready to jump.”
Mr Mort has since documented his recovery, as well as making wider contributions to the public discussion around mental health, and gone on to be named UK Mastercoach of the Year on the back of his work as a motivational speaker.
The male suicide rate in England and Wales was found to have hit a two-decade high earlier this year, according to Office for National Statistics figures.
Before he was approached to author his new book, he released a self-published account of his experiences, which he says reached 15,000 readers.
At the time of his breakdown, he says his then-work as an entrepreneur meant he found himself with an unexpected amount of time on his hands.
"That created a work week which didn't always include lots of work – so I found myself bored and getting into trouble.
"I think now there’s a lot of awareness about mental health and there’s a lot of talking. So really it’s got to be about moving things on.
"Particularly a lot of lads don’t want to talk about this stuff. So this new approach doesn’t often work for them.
"People get placed on waiting lists for months. But in the meantime there are obviously things they can be doing to help them begin to get a handle on things.
"A lot of it, for me, is just about getting the smaller stuff sorted first – what you’re eating, your sleeping patterns, how much you’re boozing or not, what’s around you – to help the bigger stuff fall into place.”
Oli Malcolm, an executive at Harper Collins, which is publishing Mr Mort’s book, praised the work the South Shields man has carried out over the past five years, saying he was “an inspirational character with an extraordinary track record of helping people – particularly working-class men in the North East, where the suicide rate is simply far too high.
"He is the godfather of personal development. If this book can assist just a single individual, our job will have been done.”
‘Paul Mort Will Save Your Life’ is being published on December 28.