beyondblue will give a free computer and a year’s internet connection to all new sheds to connect thousands of men across the country and help end social isolation.
The unprecedented pledge, which will be funded up to $150,000 by beyondblue and is supported by Telstra, will allow all new sheds established from today to connect with other sheds and promote themselves and their activities online.
It comes as the findings of the largest Men’s Shed study ever conducted in Australia are revealed, including the sheds’ significant impact on members’ mental and physical wellbeing and how the sheds are viewed by members as places that inspire a sense of purpose and belonging.
beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC, who will announce the funding at the Australian Men’s Shed Association Biannual Conference in Golden Point, Ballarat, Victoria at 9.45am this morning, said the pledge would further the shed movement’s goal to help get blokes talking to one another and improve their wellbeing.
“This new research and the fact there are almost 1,000 sheds now operating across the country shows the tremendous success of the Australian Men’s Shed movement,” he said. “The movement is vitally important because it helps reduce loneliness and build friendships, particularly in non-metropolitan areas, and this in turn brings major mental health benefits. This financial pledge will encourage more communities to establish Men’s Sheds and reap the mental health benefits they bring. It will also allow shedders to use the web to connect with other sheds via beyondblue’s The Shed Online, promote their shed and use The Shed Online’s resources to research any health concerns they may have.”
The Men’s Shed study, conducted by UltraFeedback, compared the mental wellbeing of almost 1,500 shedders with socially-isolated non-shedders to measure the mental health benefits of social interaction.
- shedders’ mean wellbeing score of 54.3 out of 70 was higher than the non-shedders’ mean score of 51
- shedders scored higher on all individual measurements including confidence, clear-thinking and cheerfulness
- shedders scored higher the longer they were part of a shed, with those who had been there less than a month scoring 48.4, rising to 54.6 after a year and 55.3 after two years
- the study also compared the physical health of the two groups, with shedders again scoring higher on every measure, particularly physical functioning and vitality
- the study revealed 80% of shedders are retired, 60% agreed they’re more knowledgeable about health issues since joining and 41% agreed that they can discuss issues in the shed that they can’t discuss anywhere else.
- beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO said the study confirmed what the Men’s Shed 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. “This research shows almost all shedders list being socially connected as the main benefit of membership, with many emphasising the importance of the shed as a place where everyone is valued equally. The study shows that this sense of acceptance leads to openness and sharing among members, which in turn fosters a sense of purpose. Many also said they joined a shed to serve the community by making and fixing things, and we can see the all-male environment promotes mateship and learning. 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.”
Australian Men’s Shed Association CEO David Helmers said the research showed what sheds had achieved in the past and the pledge to give all new sheds computers and internet connections would ensure this good work continues well into the future.
“This is wonderful initiative that will help continue to connect men to each other and their communities and we are very grateful for it.”
To learn more, please contact beyondblue on 03 9810 6100 or the Australian Men’s Shed Association on 1300 550 009.