The Men’s Shed movement in the northern rivers and across Australia is booming, with the number of sheds more than doubling in the last two years as thousands of men seek to connect with each other.
Its growing popularity is highlighted by the success of the country’s biggest shed, the Shed Online (www.theshedonline.org.au), which over 6500 men have joined since beyondblue launched it in December 2010.
In 2010, there were 400 Men’s Sheds in Australia, but that number has grown to 860 today as more and more men see how effective they are at reducing isolation, which is a risk factor for depression. While the size of each shed ranges from three to 100 members, limited funding means few sheds can currently afford to create websites.
This is set to change with the launch of a new feature on the Shed Online website that allows Men’s Sheds registered with the Australian Men’s Shed Association to create their own webpage for free.
The new pages, which will appear on the Shed Online website, allow Men’s Sheds across Australia to promote themselves with contact details, videos, activities and other information. The pages will also draw more people to the reliable health information that is available at the Shed Online for men who may be isolated.
beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC said the popularity of Men’s Sheds across the country showed Australian men had embraced the concept.
‘The Men’s Shed movement across Australia has been an enormous success. I have no doubt that by giving men the opportunity to bond with each other it has saved lives and improved many more. The success of the Shed Online shows men want to take the experience onto the internet and that will be made a lot easier with these new features,’ he said.
The Men’s Shed movement, which offers men a safe place to socialise and discuss their well-being, started gathering momentum in 2005 after several sheds were established in the 1990s. The sheds allow men to pursue activities such as furniture restoration or mechanical repairs and sprung up amid concerns Australian men had limited opportunities to meet and share what’s on their mind.
beyondblue CEO Ms Kate Carnell AO said the Shed Online had been used by men to discuss mental health as she emphasised the benefit of the new online resource for men.
‘Interestingly, in the Shed Online’s forum, depression is the topic discussed most by men, which is in line with all our research suggesting that if men have depression or anxiety, they are most likely to go online for information, rather than to talk to a friend or health professional. We know that being isolated and feeling lonely may contribute to depression, and that untreated depression is a risk factor for suicide, especially in men.
‘We are happy to support the work of the Australian Men’s Shed Association and the Men’s Shed movement by providing this resource on The Shed Online. We know that it will be of benefit to a lot of people,’ she said.
David Helmers, Executive Officer of AMSA, praised the link between the grassroots sheds and the Shed Online.
‘The Australian Men’s Shed Association appreciates the support from beyondblue in developing this collaboration. Men’s Sheds have effectively addressed the issue of social isolation to a large number of Australian men and The Shed Online has been a successful extension of this initiative. The new web pages allow sheds to promote their operations and achievements to a much wider audience in a way that was not previously achievable for the majority of sheds,’ he said.
The Shed Online is a joint project of beyondblue and AMSA, and is funded by the Movember Foundation. Men’s Shed webpages can be created at http://www.theshedonline.org.au/mens-sheds