Counselling service now available!

Behind the Mask

Why we created Unmasked

Mental health comprises our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. It affects how we feel, think and act. It also is a determinant of how we handle stress. Thus, it is very important at every stage of life.

People who have good health can still have underlying emotional problems and mental health problems. This can be caused by a physical imbalance in the brain, stress, family problems and stressful work/education can make it worse.

With an estimated 1 in 4 people experiencing some form of mental illness, it’s probable that you, or one of your loved ones, could be living with a mental health issue in silence.

Here at Unmasked Mental Health, our goal is simple, through our Hubs, Counselling Services and our Training provision, we want to provide safe, stable and regulated environments where people who are suffering from poor mental health can communicate with each other, get professional support and to educate employers and others on how to support people who may be struggling. 

We are proud to partner with many other organisations within the communities we operate. Unmasked are a social prescriber service working in partnership with NHS England which means you can be referred to us for support directly from your GP.

Who we are

Phil Wheeliker


Phil Wheeliker is a South Yorkshireman by birth and is a former RAF Logistics and Explosives Supply Officer who gained active service experience during the Falklands and the First Gulf War. Subsequently he spent many years within a variety of industries, gaining executive experience in general management, adult training provision and in business rescue and transformation. Over the years he gained experience and qualifications in project management, information technology management and human resource management and development.

Phil currently runs his own business, based in Wakefield but operating internationally, specialising in mental health (using Hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy as his main methodologies), management training, and corporate and individual performance coaching.

Between 2016 and 2022, Phil was active in the field of education governance, operating as a non-executive director/trustee. He was the Chair of the Board for both South Pennine Academies and White Rose Academies Trust. He was selected by the Department for Education to join their flagship upskilling programme, graduating in 2019 as a Governance Leader.

Phil joined Unmasked Mental Health as a non-executive director in 2022 and was delighted to be asked to take-up the role of Chair during our journey to full charitable status.

He has an MBA and holds both an MA and Doctorate in Psychotherapy.

Mel Stead

Chief Executive & Trustee

Mel is the Chief Executive of Unmasked Mental Health.  Mel joined Unmasked as a Trustee and Director in 2022 after volunteering for the organisation for several years.  In July 2023 Mel took on the role of Chief Executive to help driver the organisations growth.

In addition to this, Mel is Managing Director of Optimal HR & Optimal Recruitment Services. Mel has over 30 years’ experience in HR & Organisation Design and worked in both UK & global roles at Executive level before setting up her own Outsourcing business which has gone from strength to strength.

Over the last 10 years Mel has worked with Clients focused on transformational change or who are going through some form of significant challenge. She has extensive experience in mergers & acquisitions and integration programmes, business modelling & redesign (Organisation Design) and building or restructuring HR functions. Her sector experience includes Financial Services, Manufacturing & Engineering, Education, Retail, Transportation, Legal and Insurance Services and Social Housing to name a few.

Mel has a real passion for supporting people with poor mental health ensuring they have the right support in place to support their well-being and to educate employers on how to support their employees.

Andy Nelson

Trustee and Director

Andy is a Glaswegian who moved his family to Yorkshire 12 years ago. He discovered a set a values and a warmth from the people in Yorkshire which aligns with his personal values.

Having worked in Financial Services for over 25 years across a range of leadership roles he is keen to use his Finance, Risk, Data, and Leadership knowledge and experience to support UMH in achieve its vision to provide practical support to those facing mental health challenges in the local area.

He is acutely aware of the need for simple and straightforward interventions that offer practical support to individuals as they seek to cope with the increasingly challenging environment we all face these days, and recognises that mental health challenges are likely to touch everyone of us in some guise, personally or through family and friends.

He is passionate about the opportunity to strengthen and help Unmasked Mental Health grow and seek to support as many people as possible. 

Dominic Furby

Trustee & Non-Executive Director

Dominic worked for WYFRS for 26 Years and retired as Assistant divisional Commander Calderdale 2018.  His current role is the CEO of BHT Education and was previously Deputy CEO of Calderdale SmartMove.  Dom is passionate about supporting people who suffer from poor mental health and works tirelessly with various organisations across Calderdale to build sustainable working partnerships.

When not busy at work, Dom is fully occupied bringing up his four children. Coordinating all of their interests and activities can be a full-time job in itself but if he does get the chance, he enjoys walking and football when he gets the time.

Dom joined the Board of Unmasked Mental Health in November 2023.

Leon Carford

Trustee and Non-Executive Director

Leon has extensive experience of providing independent value and oversight having amassed over 16 years of experience, gained predominantly within the financial service sector.

Leon has trained in Law, Accountancy, Project Management and Cyber Security and prides himself on bringing a well-rounded skill set and fresh thinking to challenges. Leon is a trained Mental Health First Aider and a public speaker on Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion.

Leon is a proud northerner, with mixed English and Caribbean heritage, and grew up in Sheffield. After graduating from the University of London with a Law degree and working for a short while in the legal profession, Leon joined accountancy firm Deloitte as an Internal Auditor. He worked for clients across several sectors, before moving into Banking and Insurance.

Leon joined Insurance Broker, Towergate, as an Internal Audit Manager in 2016 and established their Manchester Internal Audit team. Towergate latterly became the Ardonagh Group and Leon was promoted to Senior Internal Audit Manager in 2020.

Leon joined Atlanta Group in July 2021 as Head of Risk & Compliance, with a focus on Assurance and integrating newly acquired businesses.

Jo Core

Operations Director

Hi, I’m Jo, and I’m the Director of Operations. 

I also have a number of other very important titles including wife, auntie, daughter, sister, step-mum, grandma, friend, and mum to two very spoiled cats (George and Bruce)

I spent 33 years working for Halifax / HBoS / Lloyds Banking Group before being made redundant two years ago.  I loved my time there doing roles such as Project Manager, Programme Manager and Trainer.  I was also the Mental Health First Aider.

After leaving there, I had the great privilege of being able to work for Calderdale SmartMove and loved being part of a charity that made such a huge difference to vulnerable people.

The move to Unmasked is such an exciting challenge for me. I’m passionate about the organisation and what it does, and I am truly honoured to become part of such an incredible team.

In my spare time I’m the Chair of the Board of Trustees for Magpies, I’m a Reiki practitioner, and I’m a qualified T’ai Chi instructor.

Lynsey Judson

Business Training Co-Ordinator

I’m Lynsey, I’m the Business Training Co-Ordinator at Unmasked Mental Health.

I am a qualified counsellor who has life experience of poor mental health and coming out the other side. I am passionate about the support and hardwork required in the Mental Health world and seem to enhance my enthusiasm for my work with humour and good spirit.

I’m a down to earth soul, born and bred in Halifax and hoping to make a difference to those who access our services at Unmasked Mental Health.

Dylan McWilliam

Administrator and Receptionist

I’m Dylan, Unmasked’s Receptionist and Admin. I’m a lover of music, food, using art as a creative outlet and my two cats Luna and Duke. I have suffered from poor mental health myself and was first involved with Unmasked as a client for their counselling service. Using the knowledge and tools I gained from these sessions, as well as being able to talk about my feelings with someone that understood – helped put me in the position I am today. I am passionate about Unmasked and what they do, so much so that I now use my time here to help others the way Unmasked helped me.

Who we work with

Who we're funded by