Growing a men’s shed in the outback of Australia was fun and rewarding.
Men’s health and well-being should be a primary purpose of a men’s shed.
Abstract of a research paper by Gary Misan, Spencer Gulf Rural Health School, University of South Australian and the University of Adelaide, Centre for Rural Health and Community Development, University of South Australia.
Australian men suffer poorer health outcomes on most measures of health status when compared with women. This disparity increases with remoteness and is particularly evident in Indigenous men.
Older, retired or unemployed men, men with limited education, with lower levels of health literacy and from a disadvantaged socio- economic backgrounds are most at risk.
Factors including services not being offered in male-specific or male friendly environments act as barriers to health service engagement of these men. Community men’s sheds cater for older, retired men and are thought to offer social, emotional and other benefits to men who participate in them.
The aim of this study was to better understand the phenomenon of men’s sheds and their influence on the social and other determinants of the health of men, including that of indigenous men. Of particular interest is whether men’s sheds might be used as a vehicle for health promotion activities that target at-risk men.
The study method included a review of the Australian and overseas literature, focus groups with members of men’s sheds and semi-structured interviews with Peter Sergeant.
Men’s sheds are recent grass-roots phenomena unique to Australia. They are diverse in structure and function but common in purpose; they are a space for men. Men’s shed participants are principally older, English speaking, retired men, with little post-secondary school education.
Benefits of involvement in sheds include regaining a sense of purpose in life, enhanced self-esteem, decreased social isolation, and friendship. Sheds offer an environment conducive to men’s learning, and also offer positive effects for partners, families and communities.
Men happily share health experiences in sheds. Indigenous men speak of the need for a men’s space that offers a culturally safe space to re-establish a connection with Aboriginal tradition and culture and restore individual and community self-esteem and respect, and to access health services.
The culturally safe environment offered by men’s sheds is conducive to learning and sharing information, including health information.
The convergence of at-risk men and men’s sheds may offer an important opportunity for health promotion programs for men not engaging well with the health system. For Aboriginal men, a separate men’s health space as part of a men’s shed men’s space could be particularly beneficial.
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I was instrumental in commissioning this report by Gary Misan and was delighted to receive the confirmation that we were on the right track and out efforts to establish men’s shed was not in vein.
A copy of the full report can be obtained @: