A BASINGSTOKE business owner and podcast host is helping to improve conversation around mental health by talking about the subject exclusively for 24 hours in a charity 'Pod-A-Thon' event.

Matt Holman, from Kempshott, is the owner of mental health training and consulting company Simpila Healthy Solutions, and also hosts the podcast ‘Matt Holman Talks Mental Health.’

He is currently planning a talking event, which he hopes will help to raise the conversation of mental health across the world.

From midday on Wednesday, February 3 until midday on Thursday, February 4, Matt will be recording 24 x 24 minute podcasts with people from around the world.

The podcasts will be recorded and released each hour for listeners to follow the journey.

So far, conversations are already scheduled with guests from Australia, Singapore, India, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, USA and the UK.

The event will be raising funds for MIND (mental health charity), and Basingstoke Samaritans, where Matt has been a listening volunteer since 2015.

Matt said: "The simple part to these conversations is that anyone is invited, everyone of us is a unique story, we all have a journey with our mental health, the impacts of the highs and lows of life, and how we see the world.

"Our perspective gives us the narrative to our personal story. The podcast is a channel for people to often tell their story for the first time. It not about creating celebrities, but about creating awareness. We all have mental health, why can’t we talk about it.

"I am very lucky to have the chance to hear the amazing stories of so many people from the podcast, when I train companies in mental health, and when I support people through my listening work with Samaritans. I want everyone to have the same opportunity.

"If you would like to sponsor the event any donation is gratefully received and will go towards providing listening support for those who need someone to talk to when they are struggling."

Matt launched his podcast and YouTube channel in November 2020, and finished season one with 18 episodes released by December 23.

The podcasts were around 30 minutes, unedited and unscripted, and recorded with people that Matt has met throughout his life and career.

The conversations in the first series included many very impactful moments that the guests were comfortable to share, including compulsive gambling, the diagnosis of mental illnesses from anxiety, depression, bipolar, the loss of a baby at birth, and even suicide discussions.

No topic is off-limits if the guest is willing to discuss their story.

The first guests for the channel were Basingstoke residents Daren Bavister, Ellie Mirabita and Graham Collins, all with their own unique mental health journeys.

The idea for the Pod-A-Thon event came to Matt whilst he was planning what to do to recognise Time to Talk Day on the February 4.

Time to Talk is an event dedicated to raising the conversation of mental health. The co-ordinating charity of the day Time to Change will sadly be closing at the end of March, but the event itself will be a good chance to encourage more people to have more conversations about mental health.

Matt added: "It has been incredible how well the podcast has been received by the listeners who often express how they have connected with the guests stories.

"The podcast was launched after a quick conversation with a friend, and then before I knew it we had set up a channel, were recording, and the first season had 18 episodes.

"In January 2021 we already have 14 guests signed up for chats in season 2, and the guest list is almost completed for the first Pod-A-Thon.

You can donate to Matt's fundraiser at: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MH2Pod-A-Thon