The Men’s Shed Movement: Building Support for Aging Men

This article 1st appeared in Booming Encore

As the 21st Century dawned, medical experts in Australia noticed an alarming trend – a disturbing increase in chronic health problems, alcohol abuse, drug addiction, and even suicide among the country’s aging men.

A series of studies concluded that much of the problem stemmed from a sense of loneliness and isolation many men were feeling from such life-changing experiences as abrupt job loss, retirement, the death of a spouse, divorce, or the relocation of family and friends.

A novel solution was proposed.

Communities should create “men’s sheds,” communal work-and-play places where men could get together to bounce ideas off each other for improving their communities and, at the same time, share skills such as woodworking, vehicle repair, or other crafts to accomplish that goal.

Knowing that men are often reluctant to discuss feelings (there is an Australian saying that men don’t talk face-to-face, they talk shoulder-to-shoulder), the belief was that a valuable byproduct of such sheds would be to provide a sense of camaraderie that would reduce the life-threatening effects of alienation so many older men were facing.

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