Walking group to hold first session this weekend near Northampton for men battling mental health

A two-hour walk is being held this weekend by friends Damian Smyth and Mark Westley who are helping men to talk about their feelings to shake the stigma of mental health.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 4:04 pm
Updated Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 4:10 pm
Damian Smyth.

The two pals form the Men Alive Project where mental health meets physical health to help other men from Northamptonshire reconnect and reverse the rising trend of male suicide.

In 2018, Corby was called the 'suicide capital of the UK' as The Office for National Statistics released figures which showed that males across the country continued to account for three-quarters of suicide deaths in 2018 (4,903 male deaths compared with 1,604 female deaths).

Damian met Mark through his job as a business coach and helped him with his mental health and changing his mindset.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Mark Westley.

Damian said: "We became friends and we thought 'wouldn't it be great if we could get guys talking about mental health?'

"When you get a group of guys together doing training they just open up so we thought 'why don't we combine the two'?"

The first two-hour walk, which will be held quarterly, will be held at Pitsford Lake at Brixworth Country Park on Sunday (January, 19) between 9am – 11am.

Damian added: "We wanted to 'do' something to get men talking about how they feel but also to give them an event to look forward to, as lack of purpose is the biggest cause of male suicide.

"This means they are then part of the solution, not the problem.

"If we can do a quarterly meet up to raise awareness plus get guys walking and talking, then we're taking a step towards reducing male suicide in the region."

Damian has written books before about his experience with mental health - his debut was called Do Nothing!: Stop Looking, Start Listening, which is based on his experience with depression.

To register your interest for the walk please click here or email [email protected]

If you need someone to talk to beyond the support group, call Samaritans 116123.