While confiding in someone with a PhD in psychology used to be hailed as the best way to get help, chatting to a person with lived experience can be just as powerful.
This is exactly what makes Mental Health Mates so magical.
By celebrating the beauty and sheer force of peer support, they organise events where people can meet regularly to walk, connect, and share without fear or judgement.
Bryony Gordon, journalist turned wellbeing champ following the release of her book Mad Girl in 2016, started the project knowing first-hand how mental illness can thrive in isolation.
Suffering with her own mental health at the time, Bryony posted to tweet asking others to join her for a walk around the Serpentine in London – when she arrived, a group of people were waiting.
Bryony explained: “My obsessive compulsive disorder was terrible, I was depressed and in the grip of alcoholism. I knew there were others out there like me, I just didn’t know how to meet them.”
Bryony continued: “So, I created this peer support group that allows people to walk and talk together without fear or judgment and connect with each other.
“I am incredibly proud of the extraordinary community it has become today, and I only hope we continue to grow, thrive and reach as many people needing this sort of help as possible”.
If you recognise the name but can’t quite place it, Bryony also hit headlines in 2018 when she run the London Marathon in nothing but her bra, knickers and trainers.
Completing it alongside plus-size model Jada Sezer, their aim was to shine a light on body positivity by proving that exercise is for everyone no matter what shape you are.
While Mental Health Mates pride themselves on providing a healing environment, they are keen to stress it is not therapy.
In their mission statement, they say: “You do not have to have a diagnosed mental health issue to join our meet-ups – everyone has mental health and MHM is here for everyone.
“It is run by people who are not experts in mental illness, but who have endless experience in it. It is peer support at its finest: we have seen people thrive and come alive though our walks, not to mention forming friendships that help people move forward and grow.”
Now that the road out of lockdown is well and truly underway, new walks have been scheduled from May onwards, including dates for London, Leeds, Glasgow, Reading and Ipswich.
The team also encourage people to set-up their own groups in local areas, so it might be time to finally meet that neighbour of yours.
To join a walk, click here: Mental Health Mates.