FAQs

Whether you’re brand new to Mental Health Mates and wondering what on earth it is, or you’ve attended a walk and you’d like to find out how to organise something in your area, we’ve answered your FAQs (frequently asked questions) below.

When is the next Mental Health Mates meet-up or walk in my area?

You’ll find a full list of upcoming meet-ups and walks on our walks page, plus we list them on our Facebook page and Twitter profile.

We call them meet-ups or walks because the aim is to meet face-to-face and, if the weather behaves, go for a gentle walk as we talk. We know walking is great exercise, and walking with like-minded people means we are free of judgement.

Why isn’t there a meet-up or walk in my area?

All our walk leaders are volunteers, managing their own mental health issues and day-to-day commitments. Therefore, we can only start new walks in areas where there is a volunteer willing to lead.

We do post appeals for new walk leaders, and we completely understand that organising a walk is a step up from attending one, so not everyone wants to volunteer to be the leader. This means it may take some time to get a walk started in your area.

To find out what leading a walk involves, download our two PDF documents, the walk leader pack and poster creation guide, from our Contact page.

To request a new walk in your area (when you are unable to become a walk leader yourself), please contact us on social media, or email bryony@mentalhealthmates.co.uk with the subject line ‘MHM walk request’.

How do I start my own local meet-up?

Check our walks page to see if we’ve already held a walk in your area. Next, get in touch with Bryony and the team via our walk leader email address, and we’ll set the ball rolling.

Please download our two PDF files, the walk leader pack and poster creation guide, from our Contact page. These give you all the information you need to organise and promote your MHM walk, with our support.

Men walking along a street to symbolise Mental Health Mates walking group across the UK

Let’s walk and talk about mental health. Together we can break the stigma.

FAQs About Attending a Walk or Meet-Up

Do I have to tell you I’m attending?

If possible, let us know you’ll be attending, by emailing your walk leader (their email will be mentioned in the walk listing on this website) or by leaving a comment on the walk poster displayed on social media. This means we have an idea of numbers, and the walk leader knows to hang around if you’re running late!

For some of our larger walks, we ask that you register before arriving, via Eventbrite.co.uk. This involves reserving a free ticket by leaving your email address. We will always tell you when a walk leader is using Eventbrite, and we provide the link to their listing, where you can sign up.

You don’t need to print your Eventbrite confirmation – your walk leader will have a list of names and can check you in when you arrive.

What happens if I’m running late?

Walk leaders tend to wait about 10 minutes after the meeting time listed. Any later than this, and they will have to start the walk so it finishes on time. However, most walks are circular routes, so you could wait for the group to arrive back at the starting point if you want to.

Can I bring people with me to the meet-up?

Yes, you can bring people with you – friends, family, and so on – and there are no age restrictions on our walks. Children and pets are welcome, though if you’re bringing a dog (as people sometimes do), please be aware some cafes at meeting points or on our routes may not be dog-friendly.

If you’re due to attend a walk and you have a phobia of dogs, or an allergy to dogs, do let your walk leader know, so they can advise everyone not to bring their pets.

I don’t have a mental health condition myself, but can I still attend?

Absolutely. We realise mental illness doesn’t just affect individuals – it affects their friends, family, carers and colleagues, too. Your experience of helping someone with a mental health issue matters, as does your own mental wellbeing.

What happens at a MHM walk?

We normally start with a cup of tea or coffee and a brief chat, running through the few simple ground rules of Mental Health Mates. For example:

  • When you’re dealing with a mental health condition, leaving the house or travelling somewhere can sometimes be half the battle, so everyone should acknowledge that getting themselves to the walk is an achievement.
  • Talk as much or as little as you like – about mental health topics, or something completely different. Sometimes we’ll discuss the latest films or what we had for breakfast.
  • If you don’t feel like talking at all, that’s okay too.
  • This isn’t therapy; it’s simply a chance to meet like-minded people.
  • What’s discussed in the group is confidential.
  • If you need to leave early for any reason, you’re free to do so, but please tell the walk leader you’re going.
  • At the end of the walk, we like to take a group photo for our social media pages, but anyone who doesn’t want to be in the photo can opt out.

We then head off on our walk around the park or public space (weather-dependent!). Walks are suitable for all abilities, and tend to be circular routes that last about 45 minutes, possibly with a short break in the middle. You don’t need special footwear or equipment – these are accessible walks, usually in city parks, in the countryside or by the sea.

After the walk, you’re welcome to stay for another cuppa. During our occasional evening meet-ups, more common in summer, we might suggest having a post-walk drink in a pub (non-alcoholic if you want), but please let us know if this isn’t suitable for you.

I struggle with social anxiety and may find it difficult to reach the walk on the day. Is that a problem?

Please don’t worry – we understand that conditions like social anxiety, and many other mental health issues, might affect your journey to the walk. If you need a little extra support, or just a clearer idea of how to get to the meeting point, please email your walk leader ahead of the event so they know in advance that you might need help on the day.

Of course, if you find you can’t get to the walk on the day, for whatever reason, don’t feel you’ve let us down. Life happens, things get in the way, and nobody will be offended. There is always next time.

Mental Health Mates walk in Clapham South, November 2017: attendees pictured outside Clapham Flowers

Some of our Clapham walk attendees in November 2017. We always let people opt out of the group photo if they want to – it’s all part of making a safe space for everyone taking part.

General FAQs about Mental Health Mates

How did MHM start?

Mental Health Mates was founded by journalist and author Bryony Gordon, after listening to a radio documentary about the author Carson McCullers. You can read Bryony’s story here.

Using the magic of Twitter, the first meet-up was held on Valentine’s Day 2016, when roughly 20 people walked and jogged around the Serpentine on a freezing cold but sunny morning. Since then the group has met regularly in London and, in July 2016, Leeds became the second city to host a meet-up.

Can you give me advice on medication or mental health treatment?

As we are not medical professionals or therapists, we can’t give advice of this nature. Mental Health Mates is an informal peer support group, and we suggest any issues relating to specific treatments or medications are taken up with your own GP, psychiatrist or therapist, who is qualified to help.

Please see our support page for a list of useful helplines and websites.

FAQs about social media, symbolised by woodland scene with autumn leaves being photographed on a mobile phone

You’ll find us snapping beautiful walk locations for our Instagram account.

FAQs about Mental Health Mates’ Social Media

Why have you deleted my comment in the MHM Facebook group?

Unfortunately, any post that breaches the Mental Health Mates guidelines will be deleted. MHM is an upbeat and friendly community and, as such, we don’t leave any content on the page that may be triggering for other users.

Why can’t I create a post in the MHM Facebook group?

We have limited time to manage our social networks, and our Facebook group is primarily a place for walk leaders to promote their walks. We have now set the group to accept admin posts only, giving us more time to focus on creating new walks and support you in the most productive way possible.

I don’t use social media. Can I still see your content?

You can view our Twitter and Instagram accounts on any internet browser, without being a member of those social networks. This website is the main way for you to track MHM, so why not bookmark it to save time?

We look forward to seeing you at a Mental Health Mates walk soon.