Hundreds of men improved their physical and mental wellbeing through a 10-week pilot health programme that took place through the men’s shed initiative, a new report has found.
As men’s health week gets underway, a new report launched by the Irish Men’s Sheds Association’s (IMSA) has found that the physical and mental wellbeing of men’s ‘shedders’ improved significantly through a pilot ‘Sheds for Life’ health initiative supported by the HSE and Sláintecare.
The pilot 10-week initiative ran in 22 men’s sheds in Limerick, Waterford, Kildare, and Louth and involved 421 men, between 27-90 years of age.
An impact report launched today found that participants in the health programme increased their physical activity, improved their mental wellbeing, and reported higher levels of life satisfaction.
Key components of #ShedsforLife— Irish Men's Sheds Association (@IrishSheds) June 14, 2021
#MensHealthWeek #menssheds@Irishheart_ie @Diabetes_ie @DHF_Ireland @AgeAction @NOSPIreland @MentalHealthIrl @FinolaColgan @MarieKeating @dementia_office @alzheimersocirl @HealthyIreland @GetIreWalking @SielBleuIreland @IrishCancerSoc pic.twitter.com/LPFCnZY34x
The research also highlighted the value of the men’s shed initiative in itself, with levels of loneliness just 1% before the pandemic struck.
One year into Covid-19, however, loneliness levels increased significantly to 39% among those involved in the study.
The ‘Sheds for Life’ programme involved a health check as well as components on healthy eating and cooking, performing CPR, suicide prevention, diabetes and cancer awareness and digital literacy.
Of the men taking part in a health check, 80% were referred to their GP for a further check-up.
It is expected that the programme will be extended to a further four counties this year once Covid restrictions are further eased.
In a video message Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, welcomed the report findings and said such initiatives would be needed as the country emerges from Covid-19.
“Today’s Report also makes the point that an emphasis on men’s health promotion programmes in the wake of COVID-19 is going to be needed.” - @DonnellyStephen #ShedsforLife #menssheds #MensHealthWeek #MensHealth #MentalHealth @IrishSheds pic.twitter.com/txJwgo9Wca— Irish Men's Sheds Association (@IrishSheds) June 14, 2021
Minister Donnelly said Ireland was the first country in the world to roll out a national men’s health policy and that the IMSA had played a “vital role” with the country now having the highest number of men’s sheds per head of population globally.
“Today’s report also makes the point that an emphasis on men’s health promotion programmes in the wake of Covid-19 is going to be needed,” Minister Donnelly said.
IMSA chief executive Enda Egan said the programme was successful as it was delivered on men’s “own terms” and in partnership with them.
“The health outcomes of this group of men remain generally worse than women with higher mortality for almost all leading causes of death. This gender-specific tailored and targeted approach works on health and well-being in a meaningful and effective way, focussing risk factors and prevention through lifestyle changes,” Mr Egan said.
“We are very encouraged that this targeted intervention produced such long-term positive change. We see this as a cost-effective template to roll out across the country,” he added.
Aisling McGrath of Waterford Institute of Technology, who carried out the research, said the initiative was “scalable” and showed that men were willing to talk in the right environment: “There is no reason why it can’t be implemented all over Ireland with the right backing and adoption by the right sectors. And it’s good value for money. We know that it’s going to be needed more than ever in the wake of Covid-19 to reconnect, particularly for more vulnerable older men”.
The number of men’s sheds has grown to 450 across the island of Ireland since the first shed opened in Tipperary in 2009. Today more than 10,000 men visit a men’s a shed every week.
For more information visit www.menssheds.ie.