Bellambi retiree Dennis Hamilton is happier and healthier since he became a ‘‘shedder’’ – and he’s not the only one, according to a new report.
The findings of the largest Men’s Shed study conducted in Australia revealed yesterday that the sheds give a significant boost to members’ mental and physical well-being.
The study release coincided with a pledge of $150,000 from beyondblue to provide all new sheds with a free computer and 12 months’ internet access in an effort to get more men connected.
Mr Hamilton, of Corrimal Community Men’s Shed, welcomed the online initiative, which he said would help members of new sheds connect with existing shedders.
‘‘There’s around 10 sheds in the Illawarra and we all have a good working relationship with each other,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m glad to see funding being put into Men’s Sheds as they give so many men – especially retirees – a sense of belonging and a source of ongoing support and information.
‘‘Whether members want to do their own projects, take part in a group project or simply enjoy a cup of tea and a chat, it means they are getting out, getting involved and getting active.’’
Mr Hamilton said one of his two sons encouraged him to join the shed after he retired from his job of 40 years in the manufacturing industry.
‘‘Once you leave work, you lose contact with a lot of your colleagues – when you join an organisation like Men’s Sheds, it rekindles all that,’’ he said.
‘‘After I’d been retired for a bit, my son told me ‘mum’s got tennis, you need to get yourself to that shed’ and so I did – that was over five years ago.’’
Since the establishment of the Australian Men’s Shed Association in 2007, the number of sheds across Australia has grown from about 150 to more than 1000.
The new study, conducted by UltraFeedback, compared the mental well-being of almost 1500 shedders with socially isolated non-shedders and found shedders were more confident, cheerful and clear-thinking.
The study also compared the physical health of the two groups, with shedders again scoring higher on every measure, particularly physical functioning and vitality.
Beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell said the study confirmed what the movement had long known.
‘‘Men often join sheds to connect with other people in their community and enjoy the benefits that come with that, and we now have hard proof that joining a shed improves lives,” she said.
‘‘...When people are happy and have a sense of purpose and support, like they get from a Men’s Shed, they are much more likely to be healthy, and that’s what these results show.”
Ms Carnell said the mental health charity’s pledge of online support for all sheds established from now on would help further reduce social isolation.