Talkhub boxing club aiming to tackle mental health problems

MEET the boxers who are on a mission to tackle men’s mental health problems.

The eight-week Talkhub sessions run three times a year at Milner Street-based gym Optimum Thai Boxing and Fitness.

Jay Deakin, from Latchford, set up the camp alongside friend Liam Blaney.

He has obsessive compulsive disorder and suffers from depression, and is aiming to help others enjoy the benefits of the sport as he did.

The 32-year-old said: “I used to be an amateur boxer, and when I felt really low it helped me with my mental health – which started to change as I kept boxing.

“In boxing you need to be physically fit, but you also need to be able to do it mentally.

“There are so many aspects which can help.

“I was going into Liam’s gym to speak to fighters once a week about Talkhub, and the guys responded really well and they appreciated it, so we came up with a plan.”

The community interest company was founded by Jay in 2020 as a response to his own struggles with mental health and mental illness.

Based across Merseyside and Cheshire, Talkhub collaborates with a variety of different groups and organises a number of other mental health initiatives such as Walk and Talk and football sessions.

Keith Kiddell, from Bewesy, is a self-employed plasterer who suffered a traumatic experience as a young man and as a result suffers from bouts of anxiety and depression.

He has used boxing to improve his wellbeing since attending a Talkhub programme.

The 37-year-old said: “Liam and Jay really helped me mentally, and they taught me loads about mental and physical health, as well as diet.

“I’ve seen how diet affects my mental health and in the morning I’d struggle to get off the couch and go to work.

“I used to have 7 or 8 cups of coffee, and I would have loads of junk food throughout the day.

“But now, after the boxing programme, I wake up earlier, I can go to work easily and it has helped me massively in my work life.”

Talkhub’s boxing camp consists of two hour-and-a-half sessions each week.

The first hour is dedicated to physical fitness and the remaining 30 minutes are set aside for mental stimulation.

During the first session, Jay explained that the group is asked what their motivations are for attending the camp and use tools, such as mindfulness and meditation to tackle mental health.

Keith added: “I also learned about other people’s mental health and how to talk properly about it without dismissing them.”

IT architect Matt, 31, says that the scheme helped him to make important life changes.

“We learnt about frame of mind, and what the mind believes, the body achieves,” he told the Warrington Guardian.

“I quit smoking and I want to make sure I maintain it, and outside the course I’ve got that frame of mind.

“There’s a lot to learn from it.”

Jay emphasizes that men who are struggling with their mental health are not alone and that Talkhub is there to create awareness.

He said: “We can engage guys early – guys that are at the top of the hill but they’re starting to fall a little bit

“They might be having problems at work or with relationships, but they get involved in Talkhub and feel part of the community and that will help to stop them going down the hill.

“As men, we do find it hard to talk, we bottle things up and then there’s that macho bravado.

“I think the more awareness we create, the more guys feel like they can talk and that’s what Talkhub is about – giving guys a safe space to talk about their problems.”






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