In episode 203 of The Just Checking In Podcast we checked in with firefighter Dean Corney.

Dean is also the co-founder of Walk & Talk 999, which is a men’s walking group in the in the UK for any man in the emergency services to walk and talk about their mental health, if they want to, and be met with empathy, trust and understanding.

The group was setup in 2018 by four women and two men, including Dean, who realised there weren’t any support groups for firefighters specifically to talk about their mental health.

On 21st September 2021, the group did their first ever walk round a local park near their station and 11 brave men turned up.

Since then, the group has grown exponentially, with 13 walking groups now setup across the UK. Because of its success, Dean operates the group full-time such is the level of expansion that’s taken place.

The groups have now expanded to include any man from an emergency services background who can attend and they have had letters of praise from HRH Prince William, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and had support from celebrities like Dr Alex George and Joe Wickes.

In this episode we discuss his journey into firefighting, the stress and strain that the job puts on men like him as well as the purpose it gives him when he has to save lives and the camaraderie amongst his fellow firefighters.

We also discuss how, contrary to popular belief how the lionisation of firefighters from well-meaning friends, family or members of the public can actually put more pressure on men like him when it comes to disclosing when they are struggling with their mental health.

For Dean’s mental health, 11 years ago he struggled with depression which developed into an eating disorder and he lost a huge amount of weight in a short period of time.

We discuss the stigma he faced in the job and outside the job which prevented him from addressing it, seeking support and recovering, the progress he has made since then and the role he holds in helping other men like him.

As always, #itsokaytovent

You can find out more about Walk & Talk 999 and find your local walk if you’re in the emergency services here.

You can follow Walk & Talk 999 on social media below:

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Music: PatawawaStrange


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