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Activities the ‘way forward’ for Cumbria mental health group

Activities the ‘way forward’ for Cumbria mental health group

Image source, Offload Cumbria

Image caption, Offload Cumbria have started running activity-led mental health sessions

  • Author, Pamela Tickell
  • Role, BBC News, North East and Cumbria

The founder of a peer support mental health group has said “activities are the way forward” when it comes to men’s wellbeing.

Liam Edmondson, from Carlisle, set up the talking group Offload Cumbria in 2020, after struggling to access public or private support.

The group has recently run activity sessions – like bowling and axe throwing – which have proved popular, and create a “nice environment to talk and be positively distracted with an activity,” Mr Edmondson says.

The group is aiming to raise £2,000 to help fund group activities for the next two years and “keep supporting males over 18 suffering from mental health issues”.

Mr Edmondson was diagnosed with complex PTSD and an anxiety disorder after working as an emergency medical technician and special constable.

“I was exposed to a little bit much and had an incident which triggered PTSD,” he said.

While looking for a different job, Mr Edmondson struggled to find mental health support.

“I found that if you weren’t right at the top end of needing help, like in crisis mode, there’s not actually that much out there, especially for men,” he said.

Image source, Liam Edmonson

Image caption, Mr Edmondson now works in the NHS as a mental health support worker

Offload Cumbria is a free talking group for men over 18 experiencing mental health issues, which runs multiple times a week in places like Penrith and Carlisle.

Mr Edmondson said the money raised would go towards room hire and refreshments, “but more specifically this time we want to do more activities with the guys”.

“[Talking] about mental health can sometimes be quite intense, [doing an activity creates] a nice environment to talk and be positively distracted,” he said.

He added the group had started doing activities over the last few months and “that’s definitely where we’ve seen the biggest uptake”.

“That’s encouraging more people to come, better connections are being made.

“I think activities are a way forward to be honest, because as much as talking support alone has its place, activities – say once a month – do definitely increase people’s happiness and wellbeing,” Mr Edmondson observed.

More stories from BBC North East and Cumbria

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