This R U OK? Day the message is pretty simple; If you notice a change in someone, trust your gut and start a conversation. But sometimes starting a conversation can be difficult, especially for men.
The stereotype that men should never express their emotions and should never talk about their struggles is being crushed by a great local initiative – the Penrith Men’s Walk & Talk. What started out as a group of 5 mates wanting to catch up and get in a bit of exercise has grown to over 150 men in just 26 weeks.
One of the walk’s founders, Alan Harding, spoke to Bondi this afternoon about the way poor mental health doesn’t discriminate.
It’s not just the young, its all of us. That’s why the walk works, if you’re looking face to face at each other, it won’t come out, but if you’re walking side by side, it comes out easier.
You don’t have to tell everyone, you just have to tell one mate.
The weekly walk begins and ends at the Nepean River Coffee Club and follows the bridge to bridge Great River Walk which is about 6.4km long and takes around an hour and ten minutes. But there are no strict rules if you’re unable to walk the entire way or can’t stay the whole time.
When you’re chatting – which everyone does – the time goes by. You can do 500m and turn around and go back, there are no rules other than no man walks alone. We have a laugh and we get by.
The walk has not only had a positive affect on the men who attend but also on a loveable furry friend, Wilson.
The Penrith Men’s Walk & Talk Facebook page recently featured Wilson in one of their posts:
‘Wilson is an 8 year old whippet. His owner Andrew said he has always suffered from ‘separation anxiety’ and was medicated for his condition. However since joining our walks Wilson is off the meds and his social interaction has improved dramatically.‘
When asked about the support the weekly walking group has received, Alan was very enthusiastic.
The support we have received on Facebook from all the wives, sisters and mothers etc has been outstanding, and how great our local small businesses have been to us. Each week we have had a small business sponsor pre coffees before our 6pm Thursday walk.
Local council, State & Federal Government are also standing behind the Men’s Walk & Talk.
You can stay up to date with the Penrith Men’s Walk & Talk by visiting their Facebook page.
When: Weekly on a Thursday
Time: 5pm for a 6pm sharp walk
Where: The Coffee Club, Nepean River
Plus, join the Penrith Men’s Walk & Talk on Sunday the 22nd of September for a Family friendly event named the ‘Troy Harding Walk & Talk’. More details to come.