MENtors for Men walk ‘n’ talk for mental health

MENtors for men members Ross Neil, Bush Bathing facilitator Bruce Meder and John Mandile.

MENTORS for Men, the men’s group focusing on reducing social isolation, is launching its first Men’s Walk ‘n’ Talk along the beach on Saturday, 12 November at 8am.

Encouraging men to come along, bring their kids or a friend, MENtors for Men coordinator John Mandile told News Of The Area, “This is a casual walk with no agenda, and is certainly not a counselling session.

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“Just come along and enjoy the walk and the company.”

Meeting outside Coffs Yacht Club, the Jetty beachside route takes walkers to the South Breakwater and back.

Described as gentle exercise, the walk will end at the Jetty for coffee in the park by the kiosk.

“The idea is to get men out of their isolated comfort zone and meet other men.

“There will be mentors amongst the walk and mentees and if someone wants to have a chat with a mentor they can, it’s their choice.

“Importantly, they are not walking alone and there is no agenda.

“A man just has to turn up and walk,” he said.

Anyone interested in participating in the Men’s Walk ‘n’ Talk can call Ian South on 0401 476601 or just turn up on the day.

MENtors for Men is a group of around 20 men volunteers who meet weekly with the purpose to support men who are going through a difficult time.

In essence the support works by the group’s mentors connecting with men who are going through difficulties, depression, anxiety and who are isolated.

John Mandile, the co-founder of CHESS Connect and its former GM for sixteen years, reaches out to the man initially and then mentors and mentees with similar interests are matched so they may participate in activities together.

“The idea is for them to meet regularly and develop a trusting companionable relationship on an equal footing.

“It can take time, but that relationship develops so that the man who is going through the difficult time has got someone to talk with and to relate to,” said John.

That relationship goes on as long as it’s needed.

Some become friends and it develops into a social relationship, for others it’s short term and they move on.

“The main thing is to develop a trusting relationship for however long so they can share their experiences.

“We don’t tell them what to do, we listen as friends,” said John.

The mentor’s role is to motivate the mentee and help them make their own decisions and give them the confidence to move on to whatever they want to do.

“We work with men who have come out of a broken marriage, men who have retired, men who are living with a disability, men who are struggling with something that’s happened in their lives.

“Men tend to isolate themselves; they withdraw and don’t reach out.”

The Coffs Harbour Branch of MENtors for Men meets every Thursday morning at the Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre.

“In the men’s circle we talk about our feelings.

“We use a talking stick which is important and when someone’s got the stick, he has the floor, no interruptions, and when they have finished, it goes on to the next person,” said John.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, call John Mandile on 0419258023.


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