“I found it liberating to talk about my mental health with others.” – Keith’s experience at men’s ‘walk and talk’ group

Men are statistically less likely to talk about mental health. Initiatives such as Bank of America’s ‘walk and talk’ group are aiming to change this. We caught up with a colleague from the bank, Keith, about his experience participating in a recent walk, and how this has positively impacted his wellbeing and supported him to open up more.


“I recently had the opportunity to hike to the top of Yr Wyddfa (formerly known as Mount Snowdon), the highest peak in Wales. The Hike was organised by colleagues at work to raise awareness about men’s mental health. Men don’t often talk about “stuff” and these walks are intended to get men out in nature, get some exercise and provide a chance for them to open up and talk about stuff that might usually be bottled up.

Although a daunting prospect, I was looking forward to the walk for several reasons. There were 41 men signed up for the day and I only knew a handful of them, so it was a great way to meet new people. Also, I wanted to challenge myself physically as I know that each time I do something like this I am sending my subconscious mind a very important message, that there is nothing wrong with me. Another reason was to have the opportunity to talk about stuff and to listen to others offload too. I’ve spent far too long isolated on my journey and with the ever-increasing focus at work and elsewhere on mental health with events such as this, there is more and more opportunity for me to share my experience and hopefully help others.

Physical training consisted of purchasing a treadmill and then not using it! I blame the weather, as during the pre-walk period we had some really hot weather. For me, it’s also difficult to go on a lengthy walk without access to a bathroom. Thoughts like this often lead to fears and the downward spiral begins. Will I get a good night’s sleep the night before? Will I cause problems for the rest of the group if I have “issues” on the day? As I expected, it was clear that this day was going to be more of a mental challenge than a physical one. One thing was for sure, I had to stop overthinking, procrastinating and looking for problems that weren’t there. There are so many scenarios I have lived through without them even happening. Each time some new activity or event comes up, I have to remind myself that I am absolutely fine and none of the wild situations I have dreamed up over the years have ever happened.

I managed around 3 hours sleep before the walk, but I still set off with some songs on and cleared my mind. Before I knew it, we were out in the wilderness at last. The first part of the walk was very relaxed and as we passed through a quiet wooded area, I really started to feel lighter. The group had already thinned out and I was quite happy strolling along at the back chatting with a couple of others. The conversation helped take my mind off the walking. By this point, I’d already offloaded my thoughts and feelings a fair bit, and could sense that it was helping, but I didn’t fully appreciate how much until the following day. As we approached the summit, I realised this was now a climb not a walk. It’s one thing pushing yourself through exhaustion to reach your goal, but add in some physical pain as well and it becomes a whole lot harder. I stopped a few times on that final stretch, but it allowed me to look out in awe across Snowdonia and beyond. Looking down the valley we’d just climbed up from, I reminded myself that I’m absolutely fine and I’d already done so well.

Getting to the top, felt so good. The achievement really reminded me how my mind and body are one, and my mind could help my body achieve physical success.

"Having dealt with my situation in isolation for so long, I found it very liberating to talk about it with others. Just hearing myself talk about some aspects of what goes on, helped reassure me that I am not broken."

– Keith

A few years ago, I experienced health issues that affected my mental health and it took me a while to figure out how to feel in control of my own body. I realised that constantly thinking about having a “problem” and looking for ways to fix it, simply re-affirms that I have a problem in my mind.  Through understanding further how my mind interacted with my feelings about my body and condition, I began to practice positive thinking more. It’s a lot more complex than it sounds and there’s a lot of detail in it, such as ‘the autonomic nervous system, consciousness itself, the present moment, quantum entanglement’. There is so much eye opening stuff I have learned about and that’s where the magic is. That’s where my attention needs to be.

I’m so grateful for the opportunities that the walk provided me in allowing me to open up and talk, and I’m looking forward to hopefully completing more walks, including with my son, in the future.”

“I will come again and conquer you, because as a mountain you can not grow, but as a human, I can”. Edmund Hilary

Learn more about men’s mental health and specific support options for men experiencing poor mental health.

Find out about the bank’s walking group specifically for men to encourage more conversation surrounding mental health topics.

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