Mental Health has no colours - together we can change lives
ABOUT WALK AND TALK MMH
BY THE FANS, FOR THE FANS
Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK, with 12 men taking their own lives every day. This has to change.
We believe football can be used as a tool to help men open up, get support from like minded people, and seek help,
by walking and talking from one Stadium to another on match days.
We call this #WalkAndTalkMMH
Some words from our Founder, Lee Adams...
The story of how Walk And Talk MMH began came from my own struggles with mental health. I had battled privately with depression for years, then in 2010 I experienced a build up of difficult life circumstances to deal with and I started to give up hope. The negative self talk was taking over, and I went into self destruction...drinking too much, eating bad food, not working out, with no interest in anything. I felt like I was no good to anyone, and everyone would be better off without me. I decided I wanted out and no longer wanted to be here. Difficult words to write now, but it was true.
I was in a dark place, and felt like I couldn't open up to my friends or family. I felt completely alone. A close friend went through a tragedy, and it sparked something in me that made me realise I needed help and fast. I left work and went straight to my GP. I broke down in front of him, telling him why I didn't want to be here any more. He took me to a Psychiatric Hospital, where I recall opening up and talking to a female Doctor, then saying "what now?". I was given tablets to take and led to a room; the door was locked, with someone checking on me every now and then. I recall looking at the open window feeling lost, alone and locked up...I didn't know what was happening. My time there was a blur and I really can't remember much of my time in there. On my release I was told the crisis team would visit me at home...they never turned up. Again I was alone.
From this moment, I was in a confused state and just got on with life. I felt like my life was a mess but I plodded on, putting on a front to everyone, but when alone I was a different person. This bubble of existing but not living continued for years until the 2014/15 football season, when I was in a pub (something I did way too much). Something had to change in my life, as this just wasn't me. I had a lightbulb moment, that if I got 'X amount of retweets' I would walk from Fulham to Reading for charity.
I received a lot more retweets then I expected, so the walk was on....'what have I done?!' I thought. Now to pick the charity. I found a charity called Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), and as I read their website it really hit home. It took me by surprise but the facts regarding mens mental health ticked all the boxes of what I had gone through. I thought I was alone in my fight but reading the facts I wasn't. It made me ask "why aren't men talking?", and has become one of my strongest driving factors since.
I started raising money and awareness for CALM and people began direct messaging me on Twitter. People I had never met were talking openly for the first time about their feelings, and struggles etc. Unfortunately I also received a fair share of negativity, but I was so struck by the positives of strangers reaching out for help, that I was motivated to focus on encouraging men to open up.
I spoke to friends about my walking challenge and the facts regarding mens mental health, they were as shocked as I was, and guess what? Men were opening up. I went into training, taking my young son Billy on endless walks around central London. 44 miles didn't look that far on the map. I was prepared to do this overnight walk on my own, but my mate Luke, a Chelsea fan (and ex Fulham youth player) was up for joining me. We set off from Fulham FC's Craven Cottage at 10pm, and reached Reading FC in an exhausted state 17 hours and 44 miles later.
The response from friends and strangers was truly amazing, and encouraged me to kick start something unique and reach out our hand to other fans to join us. My vision was to bring fans together from all Football teams in unity, to challenge the stigma around mental health and to help prevent suicide. The more I opened up and talked, so did other men; with this as a catalyst, it could only encourage others to do the same. Walk and Talk MMH was born and brings fans from opposition teams together, meeting at the away team Stadium, and Walk and Talk together to the home team Stadium ahead of match day fixtures. We have held Walk and Talk MMH events UK wide, walking from 3 miles to 113 miles, and cycling 60 miles to 230 miles.
Fans of so many teams now pound the pavements to Football games; Walking, Talking, and supporting each other. We have built a friendly, supportive, peer to peer community that continues to grow. We have seen the positive impact this has had on so many people's lives, and is what continues to motivate me. Changing and saving lives is what we aim for, and over and over again, we see the positive changes Walk and Talk MMH has provided.
Mental Health has no colours, and I never want anyone to feel the way I did.
Please reach out, and join us at our future events. You are not alone. We can't wait to meet you!