A TAUNTON man is encouraging people to #walkwithme ahead of International Men's Day this Saturday (November 19).

Chris Manley, who has been suffering from depression for a year, has found walking has helped improve his mental health and believes it will make a positive difference to men and boys' wellbeing.

He is urging people to try to get out for one walk a day on their own or with friends and to post videos or photos and details of their experience with the #walkwithme hashtag on social media to encourage others to join in.

Chris said: "I have been suffering with depression for just over 12 months now and this has been a very difficult period for me.

"As part of my many coping mechanisms I journal my thoughts.

"One of my creations is called #walkwithme.

"I had this idea because walking is known to be very good for your mental health because it gets you moving and helps you to engage with the environment around you.

"I'm also very aware that my friends and family have provided incredible support just through being there and listening.

"So they are 'walking with me' on my mental health journey. It is also a much easier way to talk when you are walking side by side."

Chris said he has been fortunate to have support, making him confident enough to talk about his mental health.

He added: "Despite the awareness around mental health increasing, many people still associate a stigma with talking about their own mental health.

"I could not imagine going through what I have experienced without being able to talk about it."

The #walkwithme initiative is "an inclusive campaign" and anyone unable to walk or who prefers another activity is "equally valid".

As well as mental health benefits, Chris says other positives derived from walking outdoors are an oxygen boost to the brain; stimulating vitamin production; increasing serotonin levels; a sense of wellness; it is free and inclusive; it is a low impact exercise; and it helps socialisation and friendship.

He is appealing for businesses and institutions to become involved and to contact him at chris-manley@hotmail.co.uk