You don’t have to register in advance to attend a walk – just turn up on the day. Our events are always free, and we make them as accessible as possible.
You can bring friends, family (including children and/or pets) and colleagues to the walks. They may not necessarily have mental health issues themselves, but they are still welcome to attend.
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 me ( email below) or by leaving a comment below. This means we have an idea of numbers, and the walk leader knows to hang around if you’re running late!
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 well being.
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.
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find out more at Bedford Pavilion