Tomorrow morning, bright and early I will be joining the above walk from The Emirates to Craven Cottage. Nine miles to help the brilliant ‘Walk and Talk MMH’ team help raise awareness of the too often ignored issues with men’s mental health. As my chosen charity ‘Future Men’ highlighted to us the advice to men, particularly young men is too often just ‘Man Up’. This is singularly unhelpful advice at best and dangerously detrimental at worst.
Whatever your reasons for suffering with your mental health, in my case after the loss of my son, the worst thing to do is clam up and not share that you are unwell. Talking helps and not just with professionals, but with people who know you and care about you, or even in the case of this brilliant initiative, folk with whom you share the common bond of football and a team.
Be great to see a few Gooner mates in the morning and the reward, over and above heightening awareness of a key societal issue is a pint and to watch the match with friends in a sensible socially distanced environment before the rule prevent it on Monday.
See you there.
Below I have invited the founder of Walk and Talk MMH, Lee Adams, to talk about the project and his inspiration…
Walk and Talk MMH believe football is key to opening up the conversation regarding men’s mental health, raise awareness and prevent male suicide, which is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. 14 men take their own lives in the UK every single day. The group are determined these shocking statistics must change. They hold events across the UK, bringing opposition fans together, walking from one stadium to another on match days.
Their fundraising and events that help so many were impacted with lockdown and games played behind closed doors, but they are back! This will be the sixth season for Walk and Talk MMH, and the first premier league game of the season is the perfect opportunity to bring football fans together for such an important cause. The first game also sees the return of Fulham FC to the premier league, facing Arsenal on Saturday 12th September at 12.30pm.
A group of Arsenal and Fulham fans will meet for the walk and talk event at 7.45am at The Armoury, at The Emirates Stadium on Saturday morning. The group will set off at 8.00am for the 9 mile walk across London to Craven Cottage ahead of the game between the two clubs. There will be a rest stop at the halfway point and will end at The Chancellor’s Pub in Hammersmith where fans can watch the game together.
Everyone is welcome to join for a mile, 2 miles or the whole distance. Lockdown has been a chance to reset and unwind for some, and a challenging, worrying and lonely time for many others. Never has there been a more important time to get out and talk about your own mental health. The walk between the stadiums will give the opportunity to chat about anything weighing on your mind, or just talk football. The group provide peer to peer support for each other, based on personal experiences, and create an open and friendly environment for fans, no matter what your club colours are.
Lee Adams, Founder of Walk and Talk MMH, and Fulham fan, said:
“I went through a difficult period some time ago. I felt alone, isolated, with nowhere to turn, and was close to taking my own life. Five years ago, I started walking to Fulham FC away games, to raise awareness that 1 in 4 of us may suffer at some point in our lives, and I soon understood I wasn’t alone. I became motivated to turn my experiences into a positive to help and support others who felt the same as I had. People started to join me, and now this has become a huge movement of fans coming together from many teams, to let other men know that it’s okay to talk.”
The first walk and talk with Arsenal took place on New Year’s Day, 2019, from Fulham. The game that day ended in a 4-1 win for Arsenal, and both teams will be eager to start the season with a win on Saturday. Walks have also been held to/from Crystal Palace. The group have covered over 9,000 miles to date and have seen that something as simple as companionship can save lives. The group believes that football has the power to help men who find themselves in a position of loneliness and isolation.
We hope to see some new faces on Saturday. So, don’t hesitate, join us! Get in touch with the team at email@example.com or see their website for further information. You can donate to the team fundraising page and follow their progress on Twitter. – @WalkAndTalkMMH
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.