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Men’s Shed – A Safe Haven for Mental Health

For most of his life, John has lived with depression. But when he joined the Whitehorse Men’s Shed 12 months ago, John found friendship, a place to chat and a great reason to get out of bed.

“Depression can keep you in bed all day,” says John, a former mechanical engineer, who is now semi-retired. “On the mornings that I plan to go to the Men’s Shed, my first thought is, should I find an excuse not to go?”

“But then I remember how good I feel after going…this positive thought helps me get out of bed each time.”

John’s experience in the construction industry, means that he’s pretty handy when it comes to a hammer and saw. The Men’s Shed has renewed John’s interest in woodworking. He is currently working on restoring a children’s table and chair set, so that they can be used in the community. However, John says he comes to ‘The Shed’ for the conversation and companionship, which is very important to him.

“My depression means that I tend to isolate myself,” says John. “But having friends around me at ‘The Shed’, makes me feel better” says John.

“It forces me to get in front of people, to get out of myself and out of my shell. Each week it seems easier to come, because I have made so many friends.”

When John was eight years old, his younger brother died of brain cancer. It was traumatic for his family and John believes that the grief was not handled adequately.

“Depression has been part of my life ever since,” he says. At times, John’s depression has led him to contemplate taking his life. But since being a part of the Men’s Shed program, he believes these thoughts have disappeared.

“The Men’s Shed is almost entirely responsible for helping me remove these thoughts, “I can talk about anything without any stigma. When health problems arise, I can speak freely, without feeling judged.”

John’s wife encourages him to keep coming to the Men’s Shed, because she can see the positive impact it is having on his life.

“After I’ve been at ‘The Shed’, I talk to my wife about what happened and what was discussed,” says John. “I talk more on these nights.”

“My daughter also approves of the Men’s Shed,” says John. “I made her a wooden chopping board and now my other daughter wants one too!”

“Those that haven’t suffered depression often struggle to understand, but I have found a lot of empathy and understanding among my peers at the shed.”

(John pictured above with Colin, both at work in the Men’s Shed)

Recently, John was diagnosed with sleep apnoea and the news hit him hard.

“It was a terrible blow on top of having depression,” he says. “But I was very relieved to discover that two others here, also have sleep apnoea.”

John believes that the Men’s Shed has helped him fight back against his depression. He is unfaltering with his message to people like himself.

“Others should make the effort to get involved. It is important to be able to share experiences and talk to people who are in the same situation.”

“The Men’s Shed has made a huge contribution to my life. It has provided invaluable friendships and helped me overcome my isolation.”

The Whitehorse Men’s Shed provides an opportunity for men to get together, work on projects and contribute to their community. The Men’s Shed would not be where it is today without the ongoing support of the The Rotary Club of Box Hill Central

If this article has raised issues for your or someone you know, support is available:

  • For immediate help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
  • You also have the option to arrange counselling through our Steps Mental Health and other services by contacting us 
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