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Mental Health Awareness Week: Thatcham's Nature Discovery Centre proves perfect photography spot to help manage mental health



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A Thatcham man has spoken out about how photography has helped him manage his mental health.

Matt Dolinski, who suffers from PTSD, depression and anxiety, said that he “can’t look back” now after discovering an outlet in taking photos in nature.

He first studied photography as a 17-year-old at college, but it was only during the first lockdown that he started taking photos during walks near his home.

Matt Dolinski
Matt Dolinski

“I was just using my phone camera, then my wife’s dad realised I was getting quite serious so he gave me his old camera,” Matt, 34, explained.

“I started posting them on Facebook pages and that’s when I started getting a lot of good feedback, especially from people who were isolating and couldn’t get out.”

Matt and his family moved to Thatcham in March 2021 and he started taking his walks around the Nature Discovery Centre. It was here that he met and started chatting to a photography podcaster, who eventually interviewed him about his mental health and how his new passion was helping him.

Matt Dolinski's photograph of a cygnet was included in an exhibition at Wokingham library recently
Matt Dolinski's photograph of a cygnet was included in an exhibition at Wokingham library recently
Taken at Thatcham lakes
Taken at Thatcham lakes
Taken at Thatcham lakes
Taken at Thatcham lakes

“Since I have be doing my Instagram page and the interview went live I have had a lot of people contacting me and relating to what I said,” added Matt, who lives with his “tremendously supportive” wife and two young children.

“I want to help people not shy away from how they feel; you shouldn’t have to shy away from how you feel.

“When I am out taking photos everything just goes away; everything just stops because I am at peace with what I am doing.

“It’s taken me so long to find something which I could do for myself. I found photography.

“When I go out and I am taking photos in nature everything just goes away. It feels nice and I can’t look back now.”

He now goes out for around half an hour, three or four times a week.

You can see more of his photos on his Instagram page @mdolinskiphotography

Matt Dolinski said taking photographs of the birds at Thatcham's Nature Discovery Centre helped him manage his mental health
Matt Dolinski said taking photographs of the birds at Thatcham's Nature Discovery Centre helped him manage his mental health

Matt Dolinski captured this beautiful shot in Thatcham
Matt Dolinski captured this beautiful shot in Thatcham

You can find more help and advice from the following organisations:

  • Time to Talk: www.t2twb.org or call (01635) 760331. You can also find help and advice on the charity’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (all @t2twb) or by emailing hello@t2twb.org
  • You can visit www.recoveryinmind.org and find a number of resources to help you look after your mental health.
  • Eight Bells for Mental Health: www.eightbellsnewbury.co.uk – call 07387 962220 – email coordinator@eightbellsnewbury.co.uk
  • Mental Health Crisis Team – call if you need urgent help, but it’s not an emergency 0300 365 0300 or 0300 365 9999
  • Sane Line – www.sane.org.uk – call 0300 304 7000
  • Childline: www.childline.org.uk – 0800 1111
  • Mind: www.mind.org.uk – 0300 123 3393 or text 86463
  • The Samaritans: www.samaritans.org – call 116 123 – email jo@samaritans.org
One of Matt Dolinski's photos
One of Matt Dolinski's photos

Matt, who is still receiving help from mental health professionals too, said he was also “a lot kinder to myself now”.

“There’s so much bad stuff going on in the world right now but there’s so much beauty out there if you just look for it,” he added. “That’s what I am doing and that’s what I try to show people.”



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