When the Mentality team first conceived their ‘walk and talk’ event, aimed at raising awareness for mental health issues, they pictured going it alone, with videos on social media documenting their progress. Instead, they found themselves leading a 40-strong group on a mentally and physically challenging trek from London to Kent, and raising over £6,000 in the process.
Founder, Sam Lee-Tracy, explains the idea behind the walk:
“Mental health issues affect everybody in one way or another and talking about them is so important if we are going to reduce the stigma surrounding them. Our message is ‘you are not alone’ and that really shone through with the amount of people who saw the publicity for our walk and came to join us.”
The crowd set off from Waterloo Bridge, an iconic landmark in the capital, and a poignant one too, as many people have taken their own lives there. They carried a hospital stretcher, to symbolise them supporting the burden of anybody struggling with their mental health.
Leaving London via the Old Kent Road, and handing out flyers as they went, Mentality reached their halfway point in Bromley, where they stopped for some much-needed rest and refreshment.
Sam acknowledges the discomfort the walkers went through:
“The second-half of the journey took its toll: we were tired, and injuries were plentiful. But we made it and were proud to cross the finish line together in Westerham, where our families greeted us with applause, cuddles and cake!”
For Mentality, it was more than just a walk:
“It was such a powerful experience and the start of amazing things to come. Many of the group had never met before but after eight hours of walking and sharing stories, we ended up as firm friends, united by the ability to talk about our personal mental health struggles.
We are a small support group but we have a big voice, and we will continue to let everyone know that we are here if they need us. ‘We have got your back’.” Find out more on Facebook: @mentalitygroup.org