Chew the Fat helping men chat in Ashford

Chew the Fat is a new support group for men in Ashford. Its founder is Peter Bailey, who started the group based on his own experiences and sensing a need for a resource like this in the community.


“I started it as I have personally had anxiety for many years,” Peter explains. “I never had an outlet to talk openly about it and felt embarrassed. Then from listening to other work mates, in a very male-dominated environment and hearing their stories, I realised that many men feel the same but felt ashamed to admit it. Most men have a story to tell and have been or currently going through some sort of turmoil (relationship issues, money problems, drink, drugs, loss of a loved one… the list goes on). I felt the urge to set this up, so with a lot of hard work and information finding, Chew the Fat was born.”


While severe mental illnesses should, of course, be treated by a doctor, people often find huge benefits to their mental health in simply talking about what’s going on and what they’re struggling with. Finding a sympathetic open audience isn’t always easy, and that’s what Peter hopes the group will provide, saying, “It isn’t a counselling service and no advice is given, but what we do well is listen. There is no judgement, it is confidential to all those in the room, it is free and no pre-booking required. There is a lot of laughter too, and vary varied topics of conversations. I understand it is not for everyone, but all I try and do is encourage anyone to come to check it out. Everyone has the chance to talk about how they feel or what is happening in their lives or they can just sit and listen. The hardest part is walking through the door but a warm welcome and cup of tea or coffee awaits the other side.”


Studies show that men often find it much harder to talk about their struggles than women do, and are more likely to find solace in substance abuse than talking therapy. In a survey conducted by the Priory Group, 77% of men polled revealed they had suffered with common mental health symptoms like anxiety, stress, or depression, and 40% said they had never spoken to anyone about their mental health, and that same number would need to be driven to crisis point before seeking professional help.


“Men don’t talk enough about their problems, and it’s important for them to have an outlet to open up if they need to,” Peter says.


Further information can be found on the Chew the Fat website or Facebook.

by Alice Smales

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