BLOG: Mental Health Awareness Week - Men's Wellbeing Group

On the back of International Men’s Day last year, a group of ECB colleagues were led by InCourage for a series of workshops on wellbeing and mental health. The group has continued to meet up following those sessions to encourage a safe space to talk about anything and everything, supporting each other and encouraging open dialogue about mental health.

As we mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13 – 19 May) and this year’s theme of “Movement: Moving more for our mental health”, we asked some of the group Tim Pemberton, Fred Clark, Luke Strauss, Jake Symes, Adam Roche, Paul Bedford, Tom Grindell and Josh Harwood to share their reflections on mental health and this year’s theme.

This year’s theme is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health”, what role has movement played in supporting your mental health?

Josh: Often exercise and movement has been the first thing that I let slip when my mental health is struggling which I find only compounds the impact. Whilst it can be difficult to get moving when you are struggling with your mental health, being able to get fresh air and feel a sense of achievement from even small movements has been helpful in building back my resilience.

Fred: Movement is vital for me to maintain my mental health.  I do a mix of running - which is more about clearing my head and helping me wake up in the morning and cricket - which is more about having fun playing some very village cricket with my friends.

Tim: I think it is tempting to view movement or exercise as a binary thing - either we go for a run or we are at our desk. Little things like taking regular breaks or swapping an office meeting for a walking conversation can go a long way.

Adam: When I am more active and productive physically, I find myself in a stronger place mentally. Sport has also helped me to build connections and friendships, which can often be hard to do in normal life.

Tom: Movement can help me with a variety of things including letting off steam and frustration, escaping into nature to slow down a bit, feeling I’m 100% focused on an activity so ignoring distractions and spending quality time with friends or teammates.

What is something in your daily routine that supports your mental health?

Luke: I go for a walk. I’m very fortunate to live by a park, so my wife and I try and commit to a walk a day, just to get some fresh air and unwind.

Tom: I journal every few days and I’ll try and have my first morning coffee with no phone to distract me – just sit and enjoy the peace!

Adam: Running gives me a sense of achievement even on a bad day and distracts me from other stresses and worries.

Tim: Whenever I think of a friend, I try and immediately send a quick message to check in and say I had been thinking of them. Building in these more frequent points of connection is an easy way to help maintain relationships and encourage others.

What has been something that you have done or learned about yourself recently that has had a positive impact on your own mental health?

Paul: The Cricket Collective volunteer event at my club has had a positive impact on my mental health, it’s where I get to meet friends who are the enablers in the game that help make cricket fun and enjoyable for everyone.

Tom: I’ve found that every couple of years I’ll need to pick up a new hobby in winter to give myself a new challenge, keep spirits high and distract myself from the long winter months! Generally, the progress curve can be quite quick at the start, there’s loads of new information to learn and you get to meet a whole new group of people.

Fred: I recently went through a low patch, and I found therapy helpful. It enabled me to tackle my problem head on rather than avoid it and seek distraction. It helped me to try and think through what you can control and doing something about it versus catastrophising over things you have no influence over.

Luke: Over the past two years, I’ve gone through some difficult times and the biggest thing I’ve learnt is to prioritise myself and my own mental health. If I’m not good in myself, how can I expect to be good for others. I also found therapy very helpful in giving me an outlet to talk about how I’m feeling.

Josh: Counting the small wins! Often I find myself working towards big milestones both in my personal and work life, which can be difficult and make me feel like I am not making much progress. Taking the time to allow yourself to enjoy the small wins in life goes a long way to supporting my mental wellbeing

What would be your advice in supporting people around you?

Josh: Always take the time to listen when you can – sometimes that is all it takes to really turn around poor mental health. On the theme of movement, I have always found it easier to talk (and listen) when walking next to someone and not facing them directly!

Jake: Never assume that you understand someone’s circumstances. Act with empathy, patience, and spend time understanding their situation before anything else.

Paul: Be as open as you can, without too much oversharing, and present yourself in a way that might elicit a positive enquiry or response. Show empathy and respect boundaries by not putting pressure on to discuss areas that might provide discomfort. Aim to avoid becoming an enthusiastic amateur even if you feel you have solutions. Keep listening and staying connected so they know that you are around if they need to chat

Luke: When asking if someone is okay, mean it. Don’t just do it because you think it’s the right thing to do – follow through on that question with action. Offer up your support, lend your ears, just let someone know that you’re there for them and then make a conscious effort to be there for them.

The other thing is to create a safe space for someone to talk to you. I don’t just assume that everyone is as open about their mental health as I am. They may not be comfortable and that’s okay – all they need to know is that you’re there for them if they need to open up to you. Create that safe, non-judgemental space for them. I try and be as open as possible with people to hopefully make them feel comfortable, but there’s no expectation on them to talk openly, it’s just nudging that door open ever so slightly.


Talking about mental health is important. For resources, visit Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, visit or call 116 123.

We also have many relevant resources available on the EDI Content Hub – just type ‘mental health’ into the search bar and you’ll see a mixture lived-experience videos, resources, and support organisations.