Mental health campaign urges people to “Walk and Talk”

A group of walkers in Tollymore Forest wave or a photo.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has launched this year’s Health and Social Care (HSC) mental health and emotional wellbeing campaign “Walk and Talk”.

Between now and World Mental Health Day on 10 October, all HSC organisations, in collaboration with the community and voluntary sector, are encouraging the public to look after their mental health by making a Walk and Talk part of their path to better mental wellbeing.

Whether that is with a friend or family member, a work colleague or with one of the many walking groups across Northern Ireland, Walk and Talk 2023 is highlighting how it can provide a vital resource for anyone wanting to improve their mental health and grow their support network.

Fiona Teague, Regional Lead for Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing at the PHA, said: “The benefits of getting active and connecting with the people around you cannot be overstated for your mental and emotional wellbeing.

“That’s why we are so keen for people to get involved with a Walk and Talk event in the run-up to World Mental Health Day this year, start to feel the benefits and make it part of your routine. “Exercising makes you feel good and walking is a free, easy way to get some physical activity under your belt, with the added bonus that doing it with other people can only help you to build better connections.

“We know that good relationships with our friends, families and communities are important for our overall wellbeing and these walks are a great way to strengthen those connections.

“Walking and talking doesn’t have to be as part of a large group either. If you have a friend or someone you’d like to go out walking with, then that’s just as good and it can only be beneficial to your mental health.

 “It’s about connecting with people around you, discovering physical activity that you enjoy and having that feeling of being linked in with a wider community.”

Further information on Walk and Talk groups and how to set one up is available at

Each year between World Suicide Prevention Day and World Mental Health Day, HSC organisations promote a mental health and emotional wellbeing messages based around the theme of “Creating Hope Through Action”.

The aim of Walk and Talk 2023 is that people can create hope through action, by getting active and connecting with the people around them – two of the main themes of Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing.

John McKeown joined the EastSide Greenways Gentle Walkers programme after a dramatic change in his life.

“Unfortunately, three and a half years ago, my wife passed on and now I am on my own,” he said.

“So it very much becomes important to be able to participate in something like this. One of the advantages of it is the mental wellbeing it would bring to me, because you can get a bit depressed living on your own at my age.

“I would have to say that it improves my mental outlook quite considerably and I look forward to the walk every week.”

Further information

• If you are in distress you can speak to a trained Lifeline counsellor by calling 0808 808 8000 or find out more at

• You can see John’s story in full at

• More information on how to look after your mental wellbeing is also available at

• Find out more about the Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing at

For media enquiries, contact PHA Corporate and Public Affairs on 0300 555 0117.

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