‘We’ve summit vital to say on mental health’
Mantalk take on Ben Nevis mission to raise awareness
Intrepid supporters of a volunteer-led east Perthshire group are preparing to take their ongoing efforts to raise mental health awareness to the highest point in the UK later this month.
Almost 50 representatives of Mantalk are due to undertake a now annual expedition to the summit of Ben Nevis – which is 4413 feet above sea level – on Saturday, August 20.
And the delegation, travelling in a 49-seater Smith & Sons bus which already is near to capacity, will be suitably kitted out thanks to the generous donation of new t-shirts by Blairgowrie business Neil Stewart Carpet and Upholstery Care.
The recent act of kindness is one of a number received by Mantalk, which was formed in March, 2021, since its inception.
It was set up to offer an informal space for men, aged 16 or older, to have a chat and open up about any issues in a judgement-free, confidential, environment following a number of tragic events within the local community.
Weekly meetings have been complemented with free outings and activity sessions as the group has progressed, with the emphasis on forging relationships and boosting confidence through shared experiences.
Terry Comiskey, one of the group’s founding members, said: “Neil contacted us to say he’d heard about the Ben Nevis trip and that he’d like to supply t-shirts.
“It was really good of him and we’d like to thank him for his support.
“We’ve had so much support from the community since we started and we really just want to thank everyone who has helped us out in any way, and the guys who come along to the group.”
He continued: “Last year there were 32 people who took part and every one of them made it to the top.
“Because it was such a success we decided to do it again. People
It helps to build friendships and wee bonds. There’s loads of benefits in terms of when it comes to doing things together
were all doing it for their own reasons – obviously a lot of them had lost people to suicide so there was a lot of emotion, but to see everyone powering through was inspiring.
“It’s not to raise funds, it’s about raising awareness. We’ve obviously got the t-shirts and banners and a lot of people were stopping and speaking to us when we were on the way up last year.
“It helps to get the message out there – and it might spur someone on to start a group or something else in the area they live in.”
Terry added: “Hopefully it’ll give folk the time to talk and open up to each other.
“It helps to build friendships and wee bonds. There’s loads of benefits in terms of when it comes to doing things together.
“And then hopefully at the meeting the following week it helps to start things off and then people spark off each other and it becomes easier and easier for people to share their problems or any issues they might be having.”
Reflecting on last year’s trip, Terry added: “It is pretty tough but it was amazing to see the guys pushing through.
“When we were at the top Sean [Henvey, a fellow founding member] made a wee speech that he’d prepared and one of the things he said was that this is the closest to heaven you’ll get in Scotland. It was emotional. There were a lot of tears up there.”
Looking to the future, Terry explained: “We’re looking at doing things where the guys will learn things and boost their skills as well as the more fun activities. Things like first aid, swimming lessons, mountain navigation and what have you.
“We’d welcome any ideas from people locally along those lines and we’re more than happy for them to get in touch.”
The weekly Mantalk meetings are from 6.30pm on Tuesdays at the Wellmeadow ABC base in Rattray’s Haugh Road.
Contact the group on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org.