Men need their own space to open up about wellbeing

By Holly Tregenza

THINK of six men you know — statistically one of them will be dead or dying by the time you finish this story.

Because one of them will be (or already is) suffering from depression and having suicidal thoughts.

Which explains how suicide has just entered the Top 10 list for premature causes of death in males in Australia.

Across the country, Men’s Shed groups are helping to slowly draw men out of the boxes in which society and culture have put them, and getting them talking about their feelings and health.

‘‘When you get blokes together they will talk. They talk about things here that they wouldn’t talk about elsewhere,’’ Stanhope Men’s Shed president Merv Andrews said.

Along with Stanhope and Waranga Health, the group is hosting a wellbeing event to coincide with Men’s Health Week, which runs from today until June 16.

They’ve invited author and once kidnapped teacher Rob Hunter as well as Rod Hadfield, known as the mad scientist of Australian hot rodding, to speak.

It’s a free event with lunch provided and is designed to get men — and women — talking about mental and physical wellbeing.

‘‘This is an event about social interaction, inclusion and community,’’ Stanhope Health’s Alice Bourke said.

‘‘Both these men have shown great resilience throughout their lives and will be inspirational.’’

And there’s a local connection to the guest speakers — both have spent some years living in the district.

Mr Andrews said he hoped the event goes some way in normalising mental health conversations in his small community.

‘‘Rural men are often stuck on their own. We see men come in to the Men’s Shed, and within two months, the transformation is amazing. People need connection and they need a boost, this is a great event for social connection,’’ he said.

The event will take place at the Stanhope Men’s Shed on Tivey Grove on Wednesday, June 12 from 10am-2pm.

RSVP by calling 58570451 by Monday, June 10.

Morning tea and lunch will be provided.