As a society, we have come on leaps and bounds talking about male mental health.
Yet talking about it and embracing it are very different things, with social conditioning still telling boys and men that it is ‘weak’ to express emotions.
To truly smash these stigmas, a little community with a big heart is spearheading change to get fellas out in the fresh air together for a walk and a talk.
Over at Dudes & Dogs, they want guys to understand that it’s not just okay to chat, it’s important. And they do it all with a little help from the animal kingdom.
As the name suggests, the group is for men and their pet pooches to get together and stretch their legs and their minds away from the daily grind.
Founder Rob Osman revealed that the idea started after he realised the power of taking his own dog for a walk had on his mindset when he was struggling.
Rob said: “Picture the scene. It’s one of those wet and windy days that we do so well in the UK. There’s no way in hell I want to go out, especially not the way I’m feeling.
“But there’s the dog, she doesn’t care that I feel like crap today. She doesn’t care that the weather is rubbish, she just wants to get out and play. With me. Really? Yes really. And you know what, it’s been the best therapy I’ve ever had.”
While Rob considers himself one of the lucky ones in life, he has had his fair share of hurdles to jump over too – including breaking his back which spelt the end of his dreams to play cricket at a high level and losing his dad while in his 20s.
He has also suffered with social anxiety since the age of 10, which manifested in “basically throwing my guts up in pretty much any social situation”.
However, as Rob got older, he realised that these behaviours are so normal and “whoever we are, whatever we do, we still have our self-doubts that can break us”.
For this reason, Rob knew he wanted to help people out of hiding, and not only be a voice to them but encourage them to speak up and use their own voice.
Rob concluded: “I’ve always known I’ve wanted to do something to help people, just never quite sure what. I started thinking about what had helped me hugely, and that was the fresh air and getting out with my dog.
“This was a way I could help people. By giving them what I had. That time out, that time away, no signal, no noise but nature, just time.”
We’re so inspired, we’re thinking of starting one called Lasses & Lassies.
To get involved, click here: Dudes & Dogs.