This blog post is part of a series of blogs and features for Men’s Health Week 2012. If you wish to share your story you can get in touch with a member of the See Change campaign team at email@example.com
Feel free to post your reactions or comments at the end of this post
Guest Blog from John McEvoy of Irish Men’s Sheds
I would not be writing this if I did not understand how stigma is such a negative factor which infiltrates the lives of those who experience mental ill health. In this case we are talking about men and how Men’s Sheds can play an important role for men who may have experienced mental ill health.
One of the keys to the recent growth of the Men’s Sheds movement is that those involved in the movement, the “Shedders” of Ireland, are not patronizing and do not see men as having ‘a deficit’ or being the problem. Instead we see every man as great asset with vast resources. This asset based approach is a core part of the Men’s Sheds philosophy. So regardless of his background or ability men are considered for their skills, knowledge, experience, creativity, ideas and support of each other. We are not saying that men don’t have problems, of course we do, everybody does and a mental illness may be one of those problems, but the magic of the Sheds can happen when we focus on the other stuff, our assets, and so for the few hours when men are in their Men’s Shed their problems often seem to disappear. Men’s Sheds may not fix all your problems but the support and camaraderie that men find there may make it a lot easier for men to deal with those problems.
This idea can be seen in a very real way if you visit any of the 80 or so Men’s Sheds in Ireland where you will get a warm welcome, a hand shake and maybe even a cup of tea. The Shedders are proud of their Shed and what they do there. Is this typical of places where men go (or more likely won’t go) for therapeutic support? We think not. Sheds are places for men to gather and work on projects at their own pace and in the company of other men regardless of the challenges they are facing in life.
“Men don’t talk face to face; they talk shoulder to shoulder”