Some of you who read my review of the BBC’s excellent A Royal Team Talk: Tackling Mental Health a couple of weeks ago will recall my mentioning about a new walking group that’s just been founded in my fair home county of Essex – and which I am a member of. It’s called Walk & Talk 4 Men, and today I thought I might tell you all about my involvement with them and what it’s aiming to achieve.
I first heard about the group back in March, when I saw a video shared on Instagram by the group’s founder, James Mace, a local lad based near Chelmsford and a barber at Goulds in Basildon (he is left in the above picture rocking the fine facial fuzz). In his video, he spoke about the then recent death of The Prodigy frontman Keith Flint and Mike Thalassatis from Love Island to suicide, and about his own struggles with depression following the loss first of his mum to cancer, and then his 10 year old nephew to a brain aneurysm six years ago.
I really admired his honesty and identified with his courage to speak about his struggles with depression, as I had done that myself before on my blog speaking about my own issues with anxiety I had experienced. When he announced the first walk back in April, I didn’t hesitate to confirm my attendance.
The principle of the group is such a simple but strong one: it is about talking to one another, but there is no pressure on anyone who comes along if they don’t feel comfortable to talk. Some prefer to be a listening ear and often find they open up more when others share their experiences or their stories.
Perhaps what is most important to stress – and James would say the same – is that it’s non judgmental and completely supportive to discuss whatever problems or worries may be on your mind, and particularly walking around the beautiful countryside that we have here in Essex is an instant relaxant. All in all, it is doing something so amazingly positive to help change the conversation around men’s mental health.
The second meetup was just over two weekends ago in Hylands Park, Chelmsford (pictured above), and was a really postive and enjoyable meeting, with the opportunity to socialize after the walk over a cuppa and a sandwich.
Such is the growth of the group that it’s now going twice monthly, with the first midweek meetup happening next Wednesday evening, 12th June in South Hanningfield – full details of which are over on the Facebook group and Instagram page.
James was also on BBC Essex just last weekend on their Saturday breakfast show talking to Kath Melandri talking about the group and the next walk. He held himself up so well – I certainly couldn’t have spoken on live radio with the tact and eloquency he did – and it’s well worth a listen back to.
So to any guys reading this who might be local to me, or who knows a man in their life that’s local and may be struggling in any way, who could benefit from being part of a group like this, then come along to the next Walk & Talk 4 Men. Links to all the social profiles for the group can be found below: