Two Taunton men have started a group to help other men deal with mental health issues and are raising funds for a local charity.

Dave Mann and his neighbour Chris Manley launched Somerset MenTalk Group in June 2023.

They aim to combat the mental health crisis among men, particularly isolation and lack of conversation about personal problems.

Mr Mann said: "It’s good to open up and have confidence in someone, and it’s great to do it with others."

Concerned by the alarming suicide rates among men, they organise social activities where men are encouraged to share their struggles.

In 2022, nearly 75 per cent of all suicides in England and Wales were males, totalling 4,179, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Somerset County Gazette: Dave Mann and his neighbour Chris Manley launched Somerset MenTalk Group in June 2023

The duo have organised four successful events in the last six months, with 25 men actively participating in an inspiring WhatsApp group.

The first event saw archery and pizza-making on Black Downs.

Mr Mann reflected: "When we sat round a fire eating pizza, I wondered whether men would really talk about their mental health.

"It was amazing how the guys opened up about their experiences and struggles.

"Charlie Acton-Pierce from Mind in Somerset facilitated the discussion brilliantly.

"We could have carried on all night!"

Further events included a pre-Christmas walk on the Quantocks, followed by a Sunday lunch, led by a ranger friend of Mr Mann's, and a 15-men strong carol singing session in a local coffee shop, where they raised £50 for Mind in Somerset.

They kicked off the new year with the Lyme Lunge, an invigorating sea swim in quirky costumes at Lyme Regis, raising an additional £65.

February sees them embarking on a guided tour of the Morgan Motor Company factory in Malvern, organised by a MenTalk group member.

Mr Mann shared: "A lot of these guys don’t know each other, and we want to build a group who are genuine and open.

"We want to build resilience for our mental and physical health."

Vicky Poole, the fundraising manager at Mind in Somerset, applauded the efforts of the MenTalk founders.

She said: "What Dave and Chris are doing with MenTalk is fantastic.

"We really admire their drive and vision, and greatly appreciate their fundraising for us."