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Good News: The men walking for mental health

BY Alice Gawthrop

12th Oct 2022 Good News

Good News: The men walking for mental health

For many struggling with mental health, it can be difficult to open up. That's why one man started a community walking group for men to walk and talk

After struggling with his mental health for nearly ten years, one day Scott Oughton-Johnson decided to go for a walk. It sounds so simple, but that decision led to the birth of The Proper Blokes Club, a community project for men’s mental health.

How it began

Oughton-Johnson had been struggling for a while. Speaking to The Guardian, he said, “I was in and out of court for the best part of ten years. It was a nightmare. I bottled it all up. People would say, ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ But inside, it was terrible. The stress and anxiety were killing me.”

"After struggling with his mental health for years, one day he decided to go for a walk"

He received some cognitive behavioural therapy sessions from the NHS, but he wanted to find something that would maintain the feeling that those sessions provided. 

He knew that he enjoyed walking, and that exercise can have a calming and positive effect, so going for a walk seemed like a good idea. He created a Facebook page and invited men who needed company to join him. 

The Proper Blokes Club

For that first walk, only one other “lad” joined. But it became a regular event, and every week more and more people turned up, walking, talking and sharing their experiences

In order to share the experience with people outside of his neighbourhood, Oughton-Johnson recruited “walk leaders” to arrange walks elsewhere, and it became the Proper Blokes Club. Walks now take place every day from Monday to Thursday. As many as 35 men might show up, but as long as there are at least two, the walk happens. 

The club is a space for men to open up and share their feelings, helping to combat the high suicide rates among men. It has provided friendship, empathy and support for many.

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