“Men are two to three times more likely than women to have an addiction issue but far less likely to seek help,” says our senior mental health nurse, Vanessa Latham. “In the last quarter, less than a third of our mental health clients were men.”
Men-in-dee-Shed at Menindee is helping to change that. Local men are now being trained in new work skills at the shed. While they’re there to learn, it’s also an opportunity to talk and hear about other services for mental health issues they may have.
The Men’s Shed had been running for a while when our Alcohol and other Drugs program worker, Gavin Drake, visited.
“Menindee is my work area. I get to know locals so I can help people with our healthcare services,” says Gavin. “I got talking with the president of the Men’s Shed about what they might be interested in. They had a lot of power tools and things but needed to learn how to use them safely and maintain them.
“I spoke with Robertson College, a local education service, and they are now running courses each week in the shed. The men love coming every week. They’re mostly older – between 40 and 60 – and have worked most of their lives and now there’s no work around. This is all they’ve really got.
“They’re being taught about occupational health and safety, and how to maintain and use the tools. There is also some first aid and they can get qualifications.”
While the 13-week pilot program draws men together to socialise and learn new skills each week, it also gives Gavin lots of opportunities to talk about how to get help for various issues.
“It’s easier to talk with men when they’re gathered for another purpose and concentrating on that,” says Gavin. “I talk to them about alcohol and drug problems, about family violence and mental health issues. It’s a safe environment to bring up these things. They also talk with each other.
“Some men really open up. It’s the perfect opportunity for them to get some help. The goal of this is for it to be successful and to roll it out to other Men’s Sheds in the region. This can establish new skills and employment opportunities while also letting men know about our services for any issues they may have.”