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03rd January 2014

Men’s Sheds – Shoulder to Shoulder

Mens ShedsYou may have seen the feature on BBC’s Breakfast programme on New Year’s Eve about the men’s sheds movement in Ireland. It got me interested because of the discussion about how it was helping to promote mental well-being and help some men manage depression. The Royal College of Psychiatrists say that men seem to suffer from depression just as often as women, but they are less likely to ask for help.

The men’s sheds movement

Now we all know that there are many men who enjoy pottering about in their garden shed. You may remember the Monty Python sketch where Arthur ‘Two Sheds’ Jackson had one shed, and was thinking about getting a second!

The idea behind the men’s sheds movement is a place where men can meet to work together on a variety of projects. As the clip on Breakfast TV showed, this working together can have lots of spin-off benefits. The movement is not primarily about mental health but there are number of factors in these projects that can be seen to link with men’s health issues:

·         The first of these is about men talking. There’s a popular idea that women can talk to each other about their emotions and feelings, whilst men find it difficult. As a speaker at a men’s sheds conference said “Men don’t talk face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder”. The idea being that if men get together to work on a project they’ll start talking about other things.

·         There’s the well-known link between physical and mental well-being. The men’s sheds movement isn’t just about traditional shed activities such as woodwork. Men’s sheds have generated interest in walking groups, which can promote well-being.

·         One of the key elements of men’s sheds is the passing on of skills. It recognizes that different men have different skills, some of which may be forgotten traditional skills. There must be a spin-off effect in boosting someone’s self-esteem it they can teach a skill to someone else.

·         Getting together to work on projects can help overcome isolation, which is a key factor in mental health. How often do you hear about men who retire from work and miss the camaraderie of the workplace, and in many ways the reason to get up in the morning?

Men’s sheds in the UK

The men’s sheds movement started in Australia, is now thriving in Ireland, and has more recently been launched in the UK. To see if there’s a group in your area, or for more ideas have a look at their website

The QCS management system highlights service users past and present occupation and interests in the admission and care planning packs. If there’s a men’s shed in your area it could provide new opportunities for young or older men you support.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Topics: Mental Health

David Beckingham

Mental Health Specialist

David Beckingham is a self-employed independent trainer, and is also an honorary lecturer with the University of Cumbria. His professional background is as a social worker and he has worked in care homes for older people in Cumbria. David’s main area of expertise is in mental health. Prior to becoming self-employed he was a Staff Development and Training Officer with Cumbria County Council, both commissioning and delivering training to mental health workers and others in statutory and independent sector organisations. Read more

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