Rob Osman is a 38-year-old man from Bristol, England, that has battled with anxiety and depression for most of his life, and at one point he lived in his sister’s windowless basement, smoking too much weed to care about anything. However, Rob managed to find a way out, and out of the many things that helped him get better, the best one was walking his Hungarian Vizsla dog, Mali.
Rob shared that as they were walking down outside, he felt his body relax and all the tension just melted away. After he realized the amazing healing power of this very simple activity, he decided to set up a group called Dudes & Dogs, which is, in fact, a mental wellness community that encourages men to get out, feel the fresh air, and talk about their feelings.
The website reads that talking really helps, and it has helped him a lot. Even though men are sometimes not the best at it, his group wants to change that for the next generation, and they do it by simply getting outside and talking things through.
Rob did not want to go out, and especially not when the weather was wet, cold, and windy. However, Mali didn’t care about that, and she didn’t care that her owner felt awful. She didn’t care about the weather, and just wanted to get out and play. Rob said that it’s the best therapy he’s ever had, and he started inviting friends on walks with him and Mali. He soon discovered that his friends were also benefiting from the dog and the fresh air and long conversations, so it got him thinking if he could share his experience with more people and expand the model to more men.
Why only men? Because men are very resistant to seeking mental health treatment, even though a recent study conducted by Priori has shown that 40% of men won’t talk to anyone about their mental health.
Dogs, though, ease men into having long and deep conversations, as men need someone to listen. Osman said that dogs are like four-legged antidepressants, and you can learn more about the program in the video below.