Free Press: Stealth health
… While the Sheds’ function is uncomplicated — loosely organized clubs where men socialize — their importance as a social determinant of health should not be discounted.
They haven’t gone unnoticed in the health-research community, says psychologist Corey Mackenzie, a professor and director of the Aging and Mental Health Laboratory at the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging.
Besides being widely studied in their place of origin, and receiving millions in government funding, Men’s Sheds have also been the focus of researchers in Canada, including here in Winnipeg. Shortly after it launched, U of M grad student Kristin Reynolds published a research paper examining the Woodhaven Shed’s positive impact on aging and socialization.
And recently, the Aging and Mental Health Lab worked with the local chapter to develop a toolkit to help other communities launch sheds.
“It’s really important to emphasize these (Men’s Sheds) are not health- or mental-health focused programs,” Mackenzie says. “The focus is on getting guys together to do whatever they want to do that they find enjoyable.”
This sense of purpose and belonging, however, is often essential to well-being. And many men struggle to find both as they become increasingly grey.
“This often has to do with the fact that many men — especially those of an older generation — define themselves by what they do for work,” he says….