Blokes around the country are walking, talking, supporting
WALK, talk, support is the motto of the men's mental health initiative that has helped thousands of men across the country.
Together, the guys behind The Man Walk, a walking group giving men an opportunity to open up and chat, are keen to smash the stigma around men's mental health one step at a time.
The Man Walk founder Mark Burns and man walker Damien Clarke are just some of the blokes who have started walking and talking. And while walking and talking wasn't a new concept, Damien said they hoped it would stand as the international activity for taking men's mental health seriously.
After gaining viral media attention in previous weeks, one of the first The Man Walk recruits Damien said he quickly realised it resonated with a lot of other men.
"It's crazy," he said. "We're just a few blokes going for a light stroll of a morning before work with some mates and now it's gone viral."
In the past year the organisation, that began in Kiama in New South Wales, has registered as a not-for-profit organisation "set up to have an impact" due to it's huge success in the southern state.
It now has interest around the world.
Damien said his own mental health issues helped him understand how much of an impact a simple activity like going for a walk with mates could have.
"I stopped playing football and hanging out with friends and family, found myself isolated and wanted to do something about it," he said.
"The impact has been overwhelming. We've had people who have said they're really struggling and need to get things off their chest.
"We're not trained psychologists by any means. There's no formality to it at all, just men providing a chance to walk, talk and support."
The initiative started about 12 months ago, when Kiama physiotherapist Mark Burns started walking each morning around Kiama Harbour.
It's grown from a group of local Kiama men using a morning walk to improve their own mental health and productivity to a fast-evolving revolution in providing an accessible and health environment for other men which has now been hear around the world with requests coming in from New Zealand, Canada and the UK.
"People just want to connect," Damien said.
"We realise that the men in that target market of 20-50 years old are really hard to crack. So we've created this thing that's targeted at helping them."
Damien will travel to Mooloolaba on Friday to lead the first walk on the Coast. He hopes it will kick-start the initiative up this way and support more men.
"I just hope we can drive the interest to leave those guys up the Coast with a group of people already keen to do the man walk," he said.
"We're just a couple of blokes at a coffee shop looking forward to having a morning stroll with other blokes who need it."
He said recent global interest and Facebook activity had proven to be the evidence the Man Walk Committee needed to cement The Man Walk as a leading means of supporting men's mental health.
They are fundraising to raise capital to implement a paid administration staff member to help establish the initiative as quickly and sustainably as possible across the country.
Register your interest to be part of The Man Walk movement at themanwalk.com.au.
Join their Facebook group here: www.facebook.com/groups/2325015581107490/.
Donate to their GoFundMe page here: gofundme.com/z3cn8b-the-man-walk-australia-incorporated.