It's OK To Say: Get talking therapy on St Albans psychoanalyst's charity trek

PUBLISHED: 13:00 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:15 02 April 2019

Steve McKeown (pictured) and his friends are walking from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of YoungMinds. Picture: Steve McKeown

Steve McKeown (pictured) and his friends are walking from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of YoungMinds. Picture: Steve McKeown

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A St Albans psychoanalyst is pulling on his hiking boots to provide free walking and talking therapy while raising money for charity.

Steve McKeown (pictured) and his friends are walking from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of YoungMinds. Picture: Steve McKeownSteve McKeown (pictured) and his friends are walking from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of YoungMinds. Picture: Steve McKeown

Steve McKeown has organised The Walking Psychoanalyst - a 90 mile trek from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of charity YoungMinds.

Anyone is welcome to join the inaugural event at any point along the journey to receive free talking therapy from Steve, who has been practicing psychoanalysis for 16 years at The McKeown Clinic in St Albans.

Steve will be joined by UFC Commentator John Gooden and friends Chris Smith, Phil Burman and Sarah Brown for the trek.

This follows the launch of the It’s OK To Say campaign last year, which is being pioneered by leading anxiety specialist Stacey Turner alongside the Herts Ad.

Steve McKeown (pictured) and his friends are walking from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of YoungMinds. Picture: Steve McKeownSteve McKeown (pictured) and his friends are walking from Eastbourne to Southampton in aid of YoungMinds. Picture: Steve McKeown

It’s OK To Say was launched on World Mental Health Day last October and aims to encourage people to speak out about their worries before they escalate.

Steve said the walk has a similar goal: “Our primary aim is to help remove the stigma associated with mental health and talking about it. Nobody should ever feel alone and isolated.

“We both feel that fundraising for YoungMinds is the best place start. Young people are our future and by educating them now it will help prevent further heart ache and loss.”

YoungMinds is aiming to raise £2.5million this year to celebrate its 25th anniversary. The charity helps young people through the challenges of life and gives them access to mental health support.

Steve hopes to raise at least £10,000 for the charity and has already collected nearly £1,500.

He said: “There’s still a stigma around mental health.

“In the past, there was an expectation in society that you get on with it [if you are feeling down]. But nowadays, we are more open with what we are feeling because if you are not talking about it, you are holding onto it and it is a burden on the mind.”

He said men feel extra pressure to repress their feelings and children can wait nine months to be referred for therapy.

“There is a problem, but it is not a one pronged problem, there are several prongs.

“We live in a world were stress is a default - we live in the most stressful time ever - and digital isn’t helping. There is research to say the more you use digital things, the more negative and stressful they are.”

Steve was born in St Albans, but has lived in Brighton with his family since 2015. He has a wife and two young children.

The route will start at Eastbourne Pier at 9am on April 5, then continue from Brighton Palace Pier on April 6, from Littlehampton Pier on April 7, and from Havant to Southampton on April 8.

Stacey Turner said: “What a wonderful initiative, encouraging talk for improved mental health and rejecting stigma.

“Many people find the idea of talk therapy intimidating, especially young people with many reporting they don’t know where to start, what to say and would rather seek help online or via an app.

“Everyone faces adversity. Brave it, face it and learn you’re not alone. Take your children along - after all, education starts in the early years and leading by example is the key.

“Walking and talking helps to remove the intimidation or face to face spot light while being on the move brings added benefits and learning that It’s OK To Say.”

The It’s OK To Say campaign has a wealth of support from the local community, including St Albans City Football Club, Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, and St Albans and District Chamber of Commerce.

Steve is also encouraging other professional therapists to offer their services for the walk, which is sponsored by Samsung Harman UK. To get involved email walk@themckeownclinic.co.uk

Support The Walking Psychoanalyst at www.gofundme.com/the-walking-therapist

Find out more about YoungMinds at www.youngminds.org.uk

Follow the It’s OK To Say campaign on Facebook, Instagram @its_ok_to_say, and Twitter @ItsOKToSayUK.

A website will soon be live at www.itsoktosay.org.uk

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