Mental Health Awareness Week 2024: every step matters

wWalk w Kairos - 10 Bridges poster
13th-19th May is UK Mental Health Week.  2024’s theme, as set by the Mental Health Foundation, is ‘Movement: moving more for our mental health’.
This weekend also marked the second of our monthly Walk with Kairos events, on 11th May.  Twenty-one members of the Kairos community came together to cross ten Central London bridges spanning the River Thames, from Tower Bridge to Vauxhall Bridge.  It was another fantastic day, full of fun and fitness, enjoyed by all.
In recognition of the power of walking and movement in recovery, Pawel Porzuc, of Kairos’ Move-on team and coordinator for Walk with Kairos, here shares his very personal account of how walking can enhance mental and emotional well-being.

Addiction combined with mental health issues resulted in me spending way too much time on my own indoors.  

Isolated, lonely, with minimal interaction with outside world and other people, anxious, lost in my self-defeating thoughts, powerless and hopeless with absolutely no motivation or indeed energy to do anything about it.  

It’s a self-perpetuating spiral, a vortex pulling me ever deeper into the bottomless void of despair. 

So, the hardest thing is probably to make the first step. It feels frightening, my mind brings all the ‘rationalisations’ of why it’s a bad idea, that I will not fit, that I’m not good enough, that I don’t have what it takes, I’m too old, too young, too fat, not sociable enough and so on and on… 

But once you go out and join the walk things start to come naturally. There’s always someone with whom you’ll connect on some level.  

When (somehow) I found a little courage and said, “I joined because I was lonely and isolated” and heard that many others did it for the same reason…  

This immediately created personal bonds, something that I really craved on a deep intimate level despite my head telling me otherwise.  

And all of a sudden my shoulders started to drop, and I relaxed and opened up a little more and started embracing surroundings and other people’s company. 

Walking in nature inspires. It creates natural positive energy. I literally can’t remember ever saying after the walk that I was probably better off staying at home on my own. 

It’s perfectly OK to start small, so you don’t really need to be fit. Suit the walk to yourself, enjoy it. Find little pleasures, I call them ‘gems’, a beautiful smell of a plant or a flower, a beam of light through the tree canopy, a sun reflection, someone being kind to me, it’s endless. 

Walking is like a treasure chest, and it’s always there waiting for you to open it… 


Logo for Mental Health Awareness Week, 2024, in purple lettering. The Mental Health Foundation's log is visible to the left of the image (white letters against a purple background).
  • Find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 here, with tips to help move more every day here.
  • Walk with Kairos meets each month and is open to members of the Kairos community, past and present.  Details for June’s event will be released soon.  Read about April’s launch event here.
  • This week, we have been privileged to share personal stories highlighting the transformative power of physical activity in recovery.  Our huge thanks to Pawel and Emma for their generosity and openness in sharing their experiences with us.