Talk About It Mate: The creative approach to mental health

Categories: Salford Business School

A new business dedicated to providing accessible mental health support for men and women in the North West and beyond has been launched.

Talk About It Mate is a social enterprise offering a creative approach with peer-to-peer support to those struggling with their mental health, particularly before it reaches a critical point.

Mike Richard, an MSc Counselling and Psychotherapy student, at the University of Salford said: “I’ve been through the system itself. I had a mental breakdown and I got support at the point of reaching a crisis point because I didn't know how to talk about it. That's why it's called Talk About It Mate.

“I didn't have mates to talk about it with, those channels just weren't there. And even when I started to do a lot of work and have therapy, and now I'm going to become a therapist… I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I created it myself.”

Feeling that services were lacking in the mental health sector, Mike created Talk About It Mate to act as an early intervention for those who didn’t feel the best mentally. With services such as workshops and training for businesses, weekly walks, men’s groups, women’s groups and much more, Talk About It Mate exists to creatively tackle mental health problems in primarily men.

He added: “We need to stop pulling people out of the river and instead find out why they’re falling in the first place. If you know those triggers, you increase your self-awareness, you increase your compassion to yourself and others and, importantly and very much so in men, your help-seeking behaviours improve. You know how to advocate for yourself better.

“If we're naming these things, which are usually guilt and shame, we're naming them early and we're talking about them with others, and we’re taking that stigma away straight away because it's seven guys in the room who also feel guilt and shame and it normalises it. And it could stop those guys from getting to a crisis point.”

Harvey Fletcher, from Derbyshire, has already used Talk About it Mate. He said: “What was amazing to me was being able to relate to the lived experiences of people in the group, that were of a completely different age or background to me. It helped me remove myself from my own anxieties and feel not so alone with my struggles.  I got a real sense of what the organisation is about, which is a lot of courage, compassion, and connection.” 

Mike is seeking help from Launch@ Salford, the University of Salford’s business incubator, to grow his business. Launch was set up in 2018 with the idea of aiding students and alumni in developing their own business. As part of a six-month support programme, users get access to a plethora of support from the team, including training, guidance, office space and financial aid.

He said: “I don’t know how to do a cashflow forecast, I’ve not got a set business plan, so I’m learning all of this with Launch and going back because things grew so rapidly through Covid-19. I haven't had time to solidify a lot of the things internally and this is the time to go back and learn how I would do things, kind of like I'm doing it as a start-up.

“I don't have all that business knowledge and it's very hard as a one-man band, but I think it's not going to be like that for much longer because we're growing so rapidly and I’m learning a lot from Launch.”

With Launch’s help, Mike is hoping he can make Talk About It Mate into a more sustainable business long-term to enable him to branch out in both his services and where he can offer them.

His current services can be found on his website, and he is also active on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

For all press office enquiries please email communications@salford.ac.uk.