In the run-up to World Mental Health Day, a hiking group in Ystrad Mynach spoke to our reporter Hannah Thomas about the importance of opening up and sharing your mental stresses.
Ian Coates told ITV that he was struggling with his Mental healthso much so that it affected his personal relationships.
He admitted, “That was probably my problem historically, I really wasn’t ready to share how I feel when I have bad days.
“I’m always happy to share the good. But I’ve always kept everything bad inside myself.”
At Easter 2021, he decided to join the Dudes and Dogs walking group as its main goal is to encourage men to talk about their emotions in a safe environment.
Ian now runs his own Dudes and Dogs walks in Ystrad Mynach as the official Dog Dude.
He said, “Many of the men who join the group say therapy can feel confrontational, but walking side-by-side with a dog is a friendly distraction.”
Between 300 and 350 people die of suicide each year in Wales, but men are around three times more likely to die of suicide than women.
Chris and Ian regularly take their dogs for walks in Parc Penallta.
Official Dudes and Dogs leaders like Ian and Chris Williams are now working to become mental health first responders while building connections and friendships for life.
Chris, who leads walks in the Cardiff area, has described group walking as a “lifeline” for many men.
He said, “Just with what we’ve had in the last 12 months of the pandemic, it really was time to rethink, reconsider and evaluate what they need.
“And ultimately, addressing their mental health and fighting their demons.
“Exercise is good for the body and good for the mind, this has helped so many men who have joined the group.”