This Nottinghamshire man lost his brother and two friends. Then he vowed to save others

Mike on a hike
-Credit: (Image: The Hike with Mike Foundation)

A Nottingham men's mental health charity founder has urged people to speak out after losing his brother and two close friends to mental health illness. Mike Jennings, 40 and from West Bridgford, founded Hike with Mike in 2021 and has helped fund therapy sessions for over 200 people through his foundation.

Mike says his brother, who had battled with mental illness, ultimately costing him his life through addiction, and his two friends, who died of suicide, had been waiting a long time to get help. Helping people get essential therapy sessions sooner was therefore paramount for Mike.

He says: "The last few years have been quite challenging but starting the foundation has given me a new lease of life. Being able to help others has been the best therapy for me.

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A group pictured on a hike holding a flag with the foundation's logo
The foundation hosts monthly hikes in the Peak District, free of charge -Credit:The Hike with Mike Foundation

"Suicide is the biggest killer in men under the age of 45, so if you are a man aged under 45, the biggest threat to your life is yourself. And although men are much more likely to take their own life, they are also the ones who are the least likely to ask for help.

"We help men and women as well but men are notoriously worse at asking for help. There is still plenty of stigma around men opening up about what they're going through because you might feel like you're coming across as weak or you might be embarrassed to open up in front of your friends and family.

"But talking to someone can save your life." Mike's idea for the foundation came after he developed a love for walking, which evolved into hiking, during the pandemic, because it helped his mental wellbeing.

Three years on, the charity has hiked over 100,000km, providing monthly events free of charge that offer people the opportunity to "get out and about, meet new people, open up, keep fit, and, of course, reap the mental benefits of being outside". The hikes, held in the Peak District, are advertised on the foundation's website and Instagram page.

Mike, who works as the Vice-President of Operations for Corpay, says: "We want to encourage people who are struggling to reach out. Reaching out and talking to someone is the bravest thing you can do."

The funding for the therapy sessions is obtained through sponsored events, such as the Welsh 3000s or the Three Peaks challenges. Participants are given a fundraising target for these events, but members also run usual marathons, join football tournaments, and other fundraising activities.

The money raised then goes towards helping anyone who contacts the foundation, funding an initial six therapy sessions within 24 hours. Anyone who wishes to reach out for help can do so on the foundation's Instagram, @thehikewithmikefoundation, or its website,