Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Men's Sheds

I came across an Australian book yesterday called The Real Men's Toolbox: a DIY health manual for men, by Tammy Farrell. I haven't had a change to have a good look at it yet, (I saw it in passing at a local bookshop), but it has some good things to say about men's mental health, and what's more, it introduces the concept of Men's Sheds, a significant movement in Australia.

On the Men's Sheds site they state: Problems with men's health, isolation, loneliness and depression are looming as major health issues for men. Men's sheds can play a significant and practical role in addressing these and other men's issues. Men’s sheds can help connect men with their communities and mainstream society and at the same time act as a catalyst in stimulating their community's economic activities.

The sheds appear to be focused more at older men, if the pictures are anything to go by, but by no
means exclusively. They talk about mentoring younger guys; not only youths, but blokes in their 30s and 40s. What they're doing, in effect, is rebuilding what was normal in the old days, when men would get together as a matter of course and work on rebuilding, renovating, helping each other put stuff together, chewing the fat and drinking no doubt. With society having focused to such a degree on every man for himself and every family separate from other families, this natural approach to life has withered away. And brought with it issues such as those mentioned in the earlier paragraph.

The Men's Sheds site has a good deal of info on it, and several slide shows (rather than videos). Spirituality is part of the approach, though this isn't discussed from any particular religious point of view. However I get the impression Men's Sheds are varied in their style, and no doubt there's plenty of room for discussing life and death and all the issues in between.

Photo by Jim Vance

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