Amidst a worrying rise in men struggling with mental health issues, CHAOS Cornwall’s Men Outside group is providing fortnightly sessions for men of any background to come along, learn valuable survival skills, and enjoy a day out in the wild with other men, all without any pressure to talk about their problems. The group partake in several different activities such as bush craft, canoeing, cooking and archery.

Photo from The CHAOS Group

As more and more men struggle with mental health problems, yet the stigma around men and showing their emotions remains, I was keen to understand just how valuable the group’s members felt outdoor activity was. One of the group’s longest-serving participants said: “Men in this day and age have a lot of pressures on them to still not express themselves. We have to watch what we say all the time. There’s not really a lot of things like this for people to do. Having a place to come where it’s just men doing men things is pretty important for mental health.”

Another participant emphasised how: “This group helps with my depression and anxiety. I’m not depressed when I’m out here.”

Photo from The CHAOS Group

Session leader Neil occasionally hosts activities in the absence of usual group lead Jason and stated: “We’ve all got issues, we’ve all had issues. [What we do is] very simple stuff and we let people do as much or as little as they want. You’re not forced into anything.”

Despite growing numbers of men struggling with mental health problems, groups such as Men Outside are becoming more accessible and are giving men some light at the end of a dark tunnel.