Taking steps to improve men’s mental health

Published 5:22pm 26 February 2024

Taking steps to improve men’s mental health
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A popular mental health initiative providing men with a safe space to talk about life’s troubles has launched in Beachmere.

Men of all ages and backgrounds are invited to join the new Beachmere Man Walk, with members hitting the footpath along the foreshore every Wednesday morning.

More than just an exercise group, the Man Walk is an international movement that has been designed to strengthen communities and combat social isolation by getting men together each week to walk, talk and support one another.

Stephen Pooler, who is the co-ordinator of the Beachmere and Caboolture Man Walks, says there has been a lot of interest from the community already.

“When you start a new group, you never know how many people will turn up, but we had half a dozen guys straight away and it’s continuing to grow each week,” Stephen says.

“I had some of the guys who take part in the Caboolture Man Walk with me come and join this one in Beachmere, and we also had a few blokes from the local men’s shed join up.

“When people see us out walking, they always say hello and ask us lots of questions about the group and how they can join.

“I always tell them it’s free and all they need to do is just turn up.

“There’s no judgment, no pressure or expectations – just come along and meet some new friends and have a chat and a coffee afterwards.”

Whether you want to chat about football, fishing or something that’s troubling you, Stephen says there will always be someone on the walk who will listen and share their own advice.

“Men are different to women in the sense that we internalise a lot of stuff and don’t share what is going on in our lives with other people,” Stephen says.

“Sometimes you just need someone to listen to you, which is what you will find on our walks.

“We have lots of life experience in the group, so you can bet whatever you are going through right now, someone else has been through it too.

“We are not professionals by any means, but we can lend an ear, offer some advice, and hopefully encourage you to go and seek more help if needed.”

For Gordon Matheson, the Man Walk was a way for him to meet new people after moving to the area.

“I work from home and only go into the office one day a month, which can be quite isolating,” Gordon says.

“I was familiar with the Man Walk because I used to live in Redcliffe, and I did the walk there.

“Joining this group has been a great way for me to socialise, talk to people and build new friendships.

“Me and the guys now text each other during the week and chat.”

Taking part in the morning walks has also become a habit for Lee Roberts, who says he feels “weird” if he misses one.

“I’m so used to going now that if I miss one walk my whole day feels weird and off,” Lee says.

“I stopped working in November 2022 and was spending a lot of time by myself, which wasn’t good.

“It was my wife who told me about the group because she had seen them out walking.

“I decided to reach out and since then, it’s been a real game changer.”

After each walk in Beachmere, the group then enjoy a coffee at the Silver Spoon Cafe.

“Yanni, the owner, is a big supporter of the Beachmere Man Walk,” Stephen says.

“He helps promote the group and looks after us when we come back for our morning coffee.”

To see more photos, click through the gallery below. 

Join them

The Beachmere Man Walk is held every Wednesday at 6.30am, starting at the Silver Spoon Cafe.

The Caboolture Man Walk is held every Monday and Friday at 6.30am, starting at The Coffee Club in the Central Lakes Shopping Centre.

Did you know?

The first Man Walk was held in 2018 in Kiama on the South Coast of New South Wales.

Since then, the concept of the Man Walk has continued to grow, with close to 100 registered groups in Australia and three overseas.

Locally, there are five Man Walks in Moreton Bay: Beachmere, Caboolture, Narangba, Newport and Redcliffe.

To find out more, visit the Man Walk website


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