Meet The Team

Be Kind sweatshirt

Rachael Beattie – Founder

The need to move for me is as important as breathing! It’s a part of who I am, and I have learnt that I’m happiest when I’m moving my body – be that walking my dogs, running along the beach, playing with my kids, hosting an exercise class, or dancing in my kitchen.

I became a fitness instructor back in 2010 with no clue that in 2021 I would be a Mental Health and Movement Coach and an ambassador for people across the world!

10 years and hundreds of hours of coaching later, I can put my hand on my heart and feel proud of myself and what I have achieved!

I have ADHD and Bipolar, and this has had a huge impact on both my life, and my dedication to found and develop MindStrong North East into a community that is both non judgemental and hugely supportive.

Along my journey, I have battled with obesity, depression, and trauma. I’ve dug deep on WHY I love coaching people. It’s not just about that before and after the photo; what the scales say; or what dress size you are – it’s absolutely about feeling energised; staying healthy physically and mentally; and overall it’s about building an amazing, supportive community!     

When I’m not working I can be found playing dress-up with my 5-year-old daughter or embarrassing and nagging my teenage boys, being a support worker for my Mam, or sneaking in 20-minute workouts!

Love Rachael x

“Mental health is not a destination but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.”

-Noam Shpancer, The Good Psychologist


Sonja Simpson Director

One person in every four people experience mental health issues and I am one of those people! How many other people are struggling who do not have a diagnosis and just feel like they are constantly tired and feeling generally rubbish?! Scary thought.

Mind Strong North East, and the community that it supports is extremely important to me, and I’m privileged to be able to use my own mental health journey and psychology degree to support Mind Strong in my capacity as a Director.

My own journey with mental health started when I was in Secondary School and the stress of different situations, along with doing my GCSE’s was just too much. I started to lose my hair in patches and was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata. I underwent counselling to address the thoughts in my mind, however, the physical hair issue is still ongoing now and my hair remains short.

As I grew up and experienced more issues, through some counselling in 2011/2012 I managed to start to use the tools to help myself. One counsellor suggested that I would be a good counsellor myself. It was at this point I did an Open University course called Introducing Psychology.

Fast forward 7 years, I did an access course and qualified for my Psychology degree in 2020 with a 2:2. My journey led me to Rachael, and ultimately a shared passion in supporting others with mental health issues.

Love Sonja xx



Tracie HarrisonCommunity Development Assistant

I’m Tracie, Rachael’s Mam, and the inspiration behind her setting up Mind Strong North East, to help others on their mental health journey.

I would like to tell you the beginning of my story. I was approaching my 50th birthday and wanted to go on holiday to a beautiful tranquil place with my best friend. We went to the travel agents and after much discussion, we chose to go to Zante in Greece. The holiday arrived at the beginning of June. I was now 50 and super excited to go to Zante. We landed, travelled to the resort, and travelled to our hotel room and unpacked. Then we went for a walk to look at the place. About one week later my friend suggested we hire a quad bike to look at other places in Zante. On the 9th June 2017, we hit a hole in the road and we came off the bike, I smashed my body which left me with broken bones and a brain injury. Apparently, the police and ambulance arrived and I was taken to a local hospital for them to look after my broken skull and other bones in my body.

I have overcome so much since my accident and would like you to know you can overcome obstacles too. I am looking forward to sharing the rest of my story with you and helping others who have had their struggles. If you can take some inspiration from my story then that would be fantastic and part of the reason I am sharing it with you.

Love Tracie xx



John McDonald – Background in Health Care

Hi I am John. My background is working in the health care sector for the past 20 years, and my experience covers palliative care and eurosurgical high dependency, I have also been on the receiving end of care after recovering from bowel cancer and brain surgery. The brain surgery did not go to plan and left me with some deficits, what could be termed “invisible illness or conditions” I am very open about how they affect me, and passionate about raising awareness of invisible conditions, I love being part of the Mind Strong North East team and supporting those with mental health issues.


“Our aim is to enable people to feel confident, positive and cool in our empowering designs and be proud of their mental health journey.”

Mind Strong NE, 2020

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