The biggest men’s shed in Australia, the Shed Online, is running a recruitment campaign starting on 1 August to increase membership and boost the number of men participating in a community shed environment where they are also exposed to reliable mental health information – including where to get help.
beyondblue Chairman Jeff Kennett AC says the Shed Online website (www.theshedonline.org.au) has recruited over 4,500 members since it was launched in December 2010 and of the 800 Men’s Sheds across Australia, it has the most members.
“We want to recruit another thousand members over the next month. The Shed Online is a fantastic website that aims to replicate all the positive things that men get from being in their own sheds or in a community shed. The feedback we’re getting is fantastic. Men can get online, make new friends or pick up a project or hobby” he says.
beyondblue CEO Ms Kate Carnell AO says: “The Shed Online has proven to be more than just complementary to the Men’s Shed movement across Australia. It is now a stand- alone resource that attracts the interest of thousands of men.
“This membership drive is designed to let men know that this free resource is available to them, especially men who may not have a Shed in their area. We’re also encouraging our current members to become more active in the discussion forums. It is in the forums where you can see the true success of the initiative, with over 8,000 posts by members since the site’s launch.
“Interestingly, in the forum, depression is the topic discussed most by men, which is in line with all our research suggesting that if men have depression or anxiety, they are most likely to go online for information, rather than to talk to a friend or health professional. We know that being isolated and feeling lonely may contribute to depression – and untreated depression is a risk factor for suicide, especially in men,” she says.
During the membership drive, Shed Online members will be encouraged to invite a mate and $50 gift cards will be awarded to the first twenty members who can sign-up six mates. ‘Shedders’ will also be encouraged to ‘spin a yarn’ on a variety of topics, with the best wordsmith, poet or songwriter also rewarded with a prize.
“The Shed Online is a vibrant and supportive community that welcomes new members from across Australia. The initiative is succeeding in providing men, especially in rural and regional areas, with a place where they feel comfortable discussing their problems, swapping stories, recipes and information, including mental health concerns,” Ms Carnell says.
She added: “The Shed Online is moderated by health professionals who make an important contribution to the community. We hope this membership drive will continue to raise awareness of the Shed Online so more men have not only access to evidence-based mental health information and help-seeking advice, but the support of other men who may be fighting a similar battle,” Ms Carnell said.
The Shed Online is a project of beyondblue in conjunction with the Australian Men’s Shed Association (AMSA), and the Movember Foundation.