The latest Man's Walk participants in Gladstone at the East Shores precinct.
The latest Man's Walk participants in Gladstone at the East Shores precinct.

Walk, talk, support: Men’s mental health initiative thriving

A MENTAL health initiative is encouraging men of the Gladstone region to walk, talk and support one another through life’s challenges.

The Man Walk has been operating out of East Shores for more than nine months, with organiser and registered counsellor John Sarotti overseeing the weekly walks.

Last Saturday morning Mr Sarotti posted his latest Man Walk update to social media, and was shocked with the results.

“Well blow me down, I got blown away by over 800 hits; I never thought it would ever happen but there has been a lot of interest,” he said.

“This is work that I have been doing for a long time here in Gladstone, supporting men in the community, I’ve been facilitating several different groups.”

Mr Sarotti said The Man Walk’s aim is to help men walk, talk and support each other.

“This is a safe place, whatever you share is confidential and everything said in the space stays there,” he said.

“If you need further support, I am a qualified counsellor and life coach so I support the men after the process.”

Mr Sarotti said The Man Walk’s origins can be traced back to the coastal town of Kiama in southern New South Wales.

“The founder realised with his mental health issues that he needed to get out and about,” he said.

“He said he felt so much better doing the exercise and getting out and about, he encouraged some of his mates to come along and since then it has gone ballistic around Australia.

“Quoting from Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams, build it and they will come.”

Mr Sarotti said he could not understate the importance of men right across Central Queensland having a yarn about their thoughts and feelings.

“During Gladstone’s boom period we had the highest rate of suicide per head of population in Australia.”

Mr Sarotti said given his background of coaching and counselling he always asked some significant questions on the walk.

“The vast majority of them go ‘geeze that is a tough question, John’ but they love it because they’re learning to communicate from the heart’s space,” he said.

The Man Walk’s next gathering will be held this afternoon from 5pm at East Shores subject to weather conditions.