Hello, I’m Matt, I’m 27 years old and live in Littlehampton, West Sussex. I started this Charity, MenWalkTalk and kickstarted the first MenWalkTalk group in Littlehampton in January 2020. I believe that there is an importance in breaking the stigma surrounding Men and Mental Health. I am working with local businesses and organisations across Sussex and borders to start more groups in and around the South Coast. I feel it is important for men, of all ages, to begin to feel more comfortable opening up and by engaging with other men, I hope that more guys begin to understand the importance of getting out in the fresh air and talking openly about anything that may be on their mind, in turn reducing the number of men suffering in silence and have reachable moments with those who are contemplating suicide.
I realised that getting outdoors for me was important for my own mental well-being. It was after having a few tricky situations at work and experiencing a lot of emotional challenges in my own family and friendship networks. At the time, I was paying for a gym membership but had no motivation to go, let alone even think about going for a walk!
Whilst dealing with all of this, my best friend was running a lot and taking part in various marathons and I could see the positive impact this was having on her mental health. I decided to get involved in a new challenge that would hopefully encourage me to get outdoors more. The challenge I joined was the Samaritans ‘Samarathon’ (I used the Relive app to track my distance).
After starting this challenge, I noticed the huge improvement immediately in my mood, my productivity at work and a sense of positivity in the situations that I faced, full of hope for a better future.
I’ve always had the heart to support people and what better way to do this than starting a group where we can do something easy and natural, walk together, plus its FREE. I’m using what’s helped me, you don’t need any training or experience to walk, we do it every day on our own.
It may seem like a chore to start, but it’s now my kind of therapy. What better way to experience the blue sky behind the dark clouds in our mind, than getting out in nature and seeing it clearly with support from other men.
There is a lot of interest for support to grow groups in other areas across the UK. This is super exciting, and I want to encourage this, so we are applying for funds to support us in recruiting volunteers and supporting them in accessing Mental Health First Aid (or alternative) training and provide equipment to support them as 'Volunteer Walk-Leaders' in their communities.
I am so excited to see what happens and would love your support as it grows.
"Physical activity has a huge potential to enhance our wellbeing. Even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood"
Add in a few conversations about 'men stuff' with other guys and let's see the change!
The focus of MenWalkTalk is to offer peer-support, although we have an awareness of Mental Health and experience in supporting those who may be struggling, we are not to replace any therapeutic interventions,
We want to see men thrive in our groups and enjoy the relationships that may come from them.