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Men’s mental health group reaps benefits of walking the Wales Coast Path

MenTalkWalk charity, out on the Wales Coast Path in Cardiff Bay

This shoulder season (September), the Wales Coast Path is encouraging residents and visitors alike to reap the wellbeing benefits of spending time on the 870-mile Path — just like men’s mental health walking group, MenTalkWalk.

Last weekend, members of the group took on a 5-mile walk along Cardiff Bay Barrage to put the nature-based theory of ‘green social prescribing’ to the test — and find out whether spending time on the Welsh coast really could help boost their mental health and wellbeing.

It comes as more and more people are being prescribed outdoor, nature-based activity to improve mental health and wellbeing — which  according to the Welsh Government, has seen a rise from over 10,000 people benefitting from social prescribing in 2018/19 to over 25,000 in 2020/21.

The news comes with the arrival of a series of brand new wellbeing resources, created by the Wales Coast Path in collaboration with Heads Above The Waves — a non-profit organisation raising awareness of depression and self-harm in young people.

Complete with a stamp of approval from ‘Heads Above the Waves’ the resource sheets contain everything from a list of mindful Spotify playlists to practical mindfulness exercises and tips for the most tranquil spots of the Path to explore.

The majority of MenTalkWalk participants reported feeling ‘energised’, ‘motivated’, ‘inspired’ and ‘happy’ both during and following their walk — with 77%* of all walkers recommending a walk on the Path to others, to boost mental health and wellbeing.

Upon completing the walk, Shaun Cook, organiser of MenTalkWalk South Wales, said: “The group was founded in January 2023 to help reduce the number of male suicides — by providing a community of support for guys to know they are not alone and that they can speak up about their feelings.

“Traditionally, men often avoid seeking support during times of crisis, but we know we can change this — by getting men together to talk as they walk in the great outdoors.

“And the Wales Coast Path provides the perfect backdrop to do exactly that, so we’d encourage anyone struggling with their mental health to gather a group together, or join an existing one, to ensure they’re not alone in whatever they’re facing.”

Sioned Humphreys, the Wales Coast Path’s Specialist Advisor for Outdoor Access, said: “This year’s ‘Find Your…’ campaign is all about encouraging people to find their slice of wellbeing along the Path. Whether it’s during their daily lunchtime walk, a day out with the family or a trip to watch the sunset — we hope the pack will help everyone get the very most out of their Wales Coast Path experience.

“And that’s not the end of our partnership with Heads Above The Waves — in fact, it’s just the beginning! Keep an eye out on our social media channels for an exciting launch, coming very soon…”

To access the Wales Coast Path x Heads Above The Waves free wellbeing pack, please visit: walescoastpath.gov.uk.