Matthew shares why he's running the Bristol Half Marathon to raise awareness of Elefriends, Mind's online peer support community - and how Elefriends can help men speak out about their mental health.
Elefriends was recommended to me in December 2015 by an old friend when I told him about some serious personal challenges that I was facing.
Elefriends has helped me to feel far less alone
Since that time I have developed and deployed a range of strategies to help me get my life together. It's a work in progress that will continue to evolve for the rest of my days I think.
Specifically, Elefriends has helped me to feel far less alone, like I belong to a community that understands something about my story. I've gained a better sense of perspective through seeing just how extreme other people's issues can be, and through trying to help some people I've reconnected with some of my deeper personal qualities.
Welcome to Elefriends from Mind Charity on Vimeo.
I've enjoyed the sense of safety that comes from anonymity and the moderation provided by the Ele. Most of all I've been struck by the warmth and energy of the responses people give freely and without any expectation of receiving anything in return.
This year I am running the Bristol Half Marathon in aid of Mind with the specific objective of raising awareness of the existence of the Elefriends forum.
Nobody is immune to the effects of suffering from poor mental health.
I think men my age need to find ways to be more comfortable discussing their mental health and emotional state, and Elefriends is one environment that seems particularly suitable for this task.
In asking for your support, my goal is to stimulate conversation. I want you to mention this to your friends, your family, your colleagues. There is a growing social focus on the fact that the most likely cause of death for males in the UK under the age of 45 is suicide. Please, keep your eyes and ears open. Nobody is immune to the effects of suffering from poor mental health.
Matthew is running the Bristol Half Marathon on 25 September - if you want to, sponsor him here.
Elefriends is a supportive online community where you can be yourself. We all know what it’s like to struggle sometimes, but now there’s a safe place to listen, share and be heard. Find out more and sign up today.