Sheds for Life Impact Report Launched
The Irish Men’s Sheds Association’s (IMSA) report entitled ‘The Sheds for Life Impact Report’ was launched virtually, Monday 14 June by Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD.
The research, carried out by Aisling McGrath of Waterford Institute of Technology on behalf of the IMSA and the Irish Research Council, highlights the benefits of Men’s Sheds for promoting positive wellbeing among Irish men.
The report details the many positive health and wellbeing outcomes gained from participation in ‘Sheds for Life’ an initiative delivered directly in the Sheds and in collaboration with men, encouraging them to be active participants taking control over their own health and wellbeing. The study was conducted with 421 men in 22 sheds in Kildare, Waterford, Limerick and Louth. The age of the participants ranged from 27 to 90 years.
The study found that Sheds for Life has been successful in:
- Engaging men, an at risk cohort in terms of their health and wellbeing, in a health-promoting initiative and significantly enhancing their willingness to seek help with a reach rate of 73%.
- Significantly improving how Shed members rated their health.
- Increasing physical activity levels and self-efficacy to be active. Those meeting the physical activity guidelines increasing from 31.2 to 51.5%.
- Feelings of life satisfaction and life worth also increased significantly and remained sustained.
- Participants reported increases in their mental wellbeing by an average of 17%. The number of men who reported feeling comfortable having a conversation about their mental health also increased significantly by 20%.
- Social capital improved significantly with participants reporting increased sense of belonging, close support and trust.
- There was also a significant improvement in confidence and skills in relation to maintaining a healthier diet.
- The report noted improvements in knowledge and confidence in relation to performing CPR, suicide prevention, getting online and cancer, oral health & diabetes awareness.
- Sheds for Life was designed and delivered in collaboration with men and Shed members also reported that it was effective in encouraging more meaningful conversations about health in the Sheds.
There were significant changes in knowledge and confidence in areas relating to:
- Cancer awareness.
- Suicide prevention.
- Diabetes awareness.
- Oral health.
- Digital literacy.
The research also highlights the impact that the loss of the Sheds has had on members’ wellbeing during COVID with those describing themselves as lonely at 1.4% prior to shed closures and skyrocketing to 39.2% a year later, emphasising the importance of Men’s Sheds to combat social isolation among Ireland’s men.
Enda Egan, CEO, Irish Men’s Sheds Association added,
“The researchers implemented Sheds for Life, a programme developed by the Irish Men’s Sheds Association. It is a community based ten-week Health Promotion programme in the sheds, focusing on physical activity, healthy eating and mental health and other health and wellbeing components. A year later, the research results show significant increases in engagement with what sometimes can be a hard to reach group of men, increases in their physical activity levels, mental well-being, and understanding of their own health, an increased sense of belonging, improved healthy eating, and improved online skills. They also showed far greater understanding and awareness of cancer, diabetes, heart issues and suicide prevention. 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.”
Men have long been seen as a difficult to reach cohort of Irish society by health professionals. Men’s Sheds provide an area for meaningful work, skill-sharing, social support and camaraderie. A key to the success is that the programmes are delivered in an environment that the men are comfortable in, and on their own terms. It changes the narrative around how ‘men do health’. Men may not always talk face to face about these issues, but they do talk shoulder to shoulder. There are 450 men’s sheds on the island of Ireland with over 10,000 men visiting a shed every week.
Enda Egan continued,
“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.”
Sheds for Life is delivered in partnership with a host of community organisations that recognise the benefits of promoting health in the informal and familiar environment of the Sheds. The initiative is supported by the HSE and Slaintecare. To read the full report, click here. An Executive Summary of the report, can be accessed here.
Those who wish to find out more about joining a Men’s Shed can visit www.menssheds.ie