Hi I’m Chris,

I’m a Movember Ambassador and the founder of The What’SUP Group. I started our men’s stand up paddle board sessions to give me a sense of fulfilment and affiliation, in a time when I was struggling physically and mentally. I have spent my whole life playing in sports teams, but due to injury and family commitments I haven’t been able to commit to a team for a long time. 

I run and cycle a-lot but due to an ankle injury, I had also neglected that. Throw in a pandemic, a second child on the way and career identity issues, and I was really starting to crumble mentally. Anxiety was affecting everything I did. I was short tempered, angry,  bitter and feeling guilty about things that I shouldn’t have been. 

My work with Movember has always highlighted to me that there are other men in similar situations as I was. I needed to give myself designated time to reflect on my thoughts and try to regulate my emotions. I have found that floating on the river, slowing down and talking to other guys, has really helped me focus on what is important and has given me a chance to make new friends, who I would otherwise have never met.

All I really want to do is be a good dad, husband, brother, son and friend. I hope The What’SUP Group can support others to do the same. 

 

Reasons to support mens mental health

We don’t all paddle and all off load our problems, its not an intense paddle talking about how terrible we feel ( unless you want to) its mainly just men, talking about normal stuff that we tend to just bottle up, getting some understanding of why we feel like it and putting some perspective on the situation.

 

Some of us might avoid talking about mental health problems if we worry about facing discrimination for it at work or being treated differently by our loved ones or community.

Talking openly about mental health issues, including mental illness, can help break down these barriers. Discussions help us understand just how common mental illness is, providing us with opportunities to correct misconceptions and feel better about asking for help.

Maintaining a sound mental well-being is an important part of staying healthy overall and enjoying an improved quality of life.

For some, this might mean getting help for an existing mental health disorder. For others, this might mean taking steps to better manage overall mental health through healthy living and stress reduction techniques like mindfulness or exercise.

While the number of mental health issues is increasing, this doesn’t necessarily mean that mental illness is starting to occur more often; being more open about mental health could help explain this increase.

If we talk more about mental health, it could mean more of us may seek treatment and be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Keeping discussions going about mental health likely makes us feel comfortable enough to recognise when we need help.

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What’SUP PADDLE BIO’s

Some of our regular members have kindly shared their experience of the What’SUP group and what they get from it. 

 

Jon Lee

Jon Lee

What'SUP Marathon Paddler

 

For me, ‘Stand up for 60’ is people coming together for a cause everyone can relate to. Life throws us curve balls from time to time and I’m passionate about creating environments where people feel supported to talk about what they’re going through. As a teenager, I went through the experience of losing a parent and put up an emotional barrier, as many men do in tough times. Once I began to talk about it, I began to realise the power of sharing my experience with others and I was able to fully grieve. Now, I want to give back to others, and have some fun along the way! What better way to surrender to our feelings than with the natural flow of the water, having some laughs on paddleboards along the way. I hope that this event can encourage others to support everything Movember charity stands for, raising as much as possible for the cause.

Alex Griffiths

Alex Griffiths

What'SUP Marathon Paddler

 

We all have been impacted by mental health difficulties and prostate cancer, whether it is someone we directly know or friends of friends or family. I’m no different. I’m fundraising for Movember this year not only to support my mates who are fundraising with me, but to continue the work we have started with What’SUP, advocating for men, getting men talking to each other positively and building support mechanisms. I’m a husband, a dad, a headteacher, life is busy, make time for yourself, talk, and exercise.

Jack Burgess

Jack Burgess

What'SUP Marathon Paddler

 

For me, I get on board with raising awareness of Movember as I know first-hand the negative impact not taking care of your Mental Health can have. I know how easy it is to keep my emotions to myself, therefore I want to encourage others to open up and be honest about how they are feeling. To get out in the fresh air, be given the opportunity of a safe space and allow Men the time to talk.

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