PHOTOGRAPHER Thomas Hobbs’ latest assignment struck close to home.

Thomas, 25, who works for town centre-based creative agency Create Studios, took the poster shots for new campaign Men’s Mental Health Swindon, which launched yesterday.

The campaign, backed by the council and charities like the Samaritans, aims to get men in the town talking about their feelings. It coincides with the national Mental Health Awareness Week.

But for Thomas said the campaign was of particular importance to him personally.

He said: “Over the past 12 months it would be fair to say I’ve had a couple of setbacks in terms of my own mental health and wellbeing. That has allowed me to have more of an understanding of my own wellbeing. It’s made me more resilient and stronger.”

Last year, his mother, Vanessa, lost her life to breast cancer. She was just 38-years-old.

Thomas planned a gruelling 1,000-mile bike ride from Lands End to John O’Groats, raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Prospect Hospice, whose nurses helped his mum at the very end of her life.

Six days in, his bicycle was hit by a car – crushing the back wheel, putting Thomas in hospital and leaving his cross-country cycle ride in tatters. He said: “I was left really angry about everything. I was angry because I felt like the world was running against me.

“I felt like I was a burden to the people I was trying to talk to about the frustrations I was feeling day to day.”

Thomas realised something needed to change: “I would say I was quite mindful anyway, but I could assess that something wasn’t quite right. I started reading more, trying to eat better and get more sleep alongside talking to my GP.”

Approaching his doctor was a big step, he said. He turned down the offer of medication, instead opting for cognitive behavioural therapy – effectively counselling.

Asked what advice he had for those struggling with poor mental health, he said: “Be real with yourself. I think being honest with yourself is the biggest achievement. Being honest with yourself straight up is very important. Once you’ve conquered that you can conquer anything.”

The Men’s Mental Health Swindon campaign posters can be seen on the Magic Roundabout billboard. For more, visit: