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Walk and talk . . . Oamaru Wolfpack members Sean McGeown (left) and Kyle Beck get in some training before the groups's Walking for Talking awareness and fundraising event. PHOTO: GUS PATTERSON

An Oamaru Wolfpack event is combining two ways to improve mental health at once – exercise and connectedness.

The men’s mental health support group is hosting Walking for Talking this Sunday, a 28km community walk from the Rakis Railway Tunnel, at Tokarahi, to the Oamaru Harbour.

Oamaru Wolfpack Trust president Sean McGeown said the event built on a similar Wolfpack-organised walk held last year.

“The goal is sort of the same – we are raising money for our headquarters at Weston, but we are working towards purchasing a van to make things a bit more accessible for blokes,” Mr McGeown said.

Oamaru Wolfpack Trust secretary Kyle Beck said the name of this year’s walk – Walking for Talking – came naturally.

“That’s our main goal for this walk, to get people talking more about their struggles, their day-to-day stuff,” Mr Beck said.

“We have too many people giving generic answers like you are.”

Walking 28km from Tokarahi to the Oamaru Harbour would be as much a mental challenge as it was physical, he said.

“It makes you push through adversity, to drive yourself past the barriers while also being supported by others in a similar state as you.

“That is a lot of what the Wolfpack is about, shared experiences and support.”

The group had been working on its Weston headquarters, Mr McGeown said.

“I would like to see it as a men’s centre.

“It’s something we can have to share our experiences and we can all gain knowledge from that.”

This July will mark five years since the group was established, he said.

“In the core group there would probably be 10 of us, but we reach more because each of those guys who chip in and do stuff are all passing on what they learn and hopefully it has a ripple effect.”

With suicide rates for men alarmingly high, the pair said there was a need for men to look out for each other.

The group was not a crisis centre, but a support group to encourage men to look after their mental health.

“I was sick of the endless questions around suicide,” Mr McGeown said of the group’s establishment.

“There is a big gap. We are trying to get the step before that.

“We can talk openly among ourselves quite easily, we don’t have a huge amount of barriers between each other, we are quite open with each other.”

Since he joined the Wolfpack, Mr Beck had experienced a lot of personal development.

“I was a shy, anxious guy, with heavy depression.

“Now that I have got better, I need to try to encourage other people to get better.

“There is something more natural about having gone through it yourself and telling someone you know exactly what they are going through.”

Car pooling to Tokarahi for the Walking for Talking event is available from the Scotts Brewing Co car park at 9am on Sunday and everyone was welcome, the group said.

The group will post regular progress updates for anyone who wants to meet up along the way.

For more information, or to donate to the group’s cause, visit facebook.com/oamaruwolfpack or givealittle.co.nz/org/oamaru-mens-wolfpack-trust.