A conversation could save a life

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After dealing with mental health issue himself, James Mace started Walkandtalk4men, to

help men speak about their worries.

James Mace is a 36-year-old barber from Essex. James has been barbering professionally since 2017 and has been working with Gould Barbers for the past year. James has managed their Basildon shop for the last 5 months and counts himself lucky to be doing his dream job.

“I owe a lot to Gould Barbers for allowing me the freedom to express myself through my work whilst also having the trust in me to run one of their amazing shops. Gould also allow me to be part of the amazing fundraising work they do for the men’s health charity Movemeber. Just last month I was cutting hair for donations above the pit lane at the British Grand Prix!” adds James.

Other than barbering James’ other passion includes working closely to those suffering from mental health issues and spreading awareness within the community. This March James decided to set up a support group dedicated to men suffering from mental health issues, Walkandtalk4men. “Having suffered with my own mental health following the deaths of my mother and my young nephew, it is something close to my own heart. The harsh reality is that men are killing themselves, our fathers, sons, brothers, cousins, uncles and friends. The current suicide rates are appalling. It is the biggest killer in men aged 15 to 45 in the UK. Not cancer, not road accidents, but suicide.” James shares.

Walkandtalk4men started in Essex and Is now expanding. “A friend of mine in Birmingham is hosting his own walkandtalk4men soon! Which is amazing!” After researching, James found statics that argue; men are three times most likely to take their own lives than women. Which is one of the main reasons James decided to aim the group at men. “Men in general find it difficult to open and talk about their feelings. Men often see it as a weakness, that they must always show strength, toughness and that nothing can hurt or upset them. At

Walk&Talk4Men we want to encourage men that’s it’s okay not to be okay sometimes and that there are places where they can open a little and talk.”

The idea of the group is to meet up and walk around country parks, take in the beautiful sites and fresh air whilst talking about problems.

“Our aim is to encourage people to talk about their troubles and concerns and provide a safe nonjudgement place for them to open up and discover that they are not alone whatever they may be going through. Using the power of social media to network and then different locations in Essex to meet up. Any man can turn up, no registration required. It has been proven that a good walk can do wonders for your mental wellbeing. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, and it reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue.” Adds James.

“It helps men that perhaps don’t socialise much due to insecurities or social anxiety, by providing a platform to integrate and meet new people, listening to others, gain new options, ideas and advice.”

James relies on education as when he first suffered with mental health issues, he had no idea what was going on with his mind, simply because he was uneducated in it. “Mental health education needs to become a priority on the school curriculum. We need to educate our children in schools that life can be stressful, people we love and care about do die and life can be tough sometimes. These things can influence us all in different ways. Depression, stress, anxiety,

panic attacks, self-harm and suicide. “I left school knowing how to do simultaneous equations but not knowing how to deal with pressure, stress, grief, bereavement or anxiety. We also all need to be educated about the help that is out there for us when we are struggling. As well as our fantastic NHS we also have many incredible charities available to us at our fingertips, just at the touch of a button or a phone call away.”

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