After joining the Vernon branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in 2019, Men’s Shed Vernon (MSV) has now become an independent society continuing its mission to promote the mental health and well being of men in the community.
Men’s Shed Vernon was started in 2018 by a group of senior men who recognized the vital need for local men in retirement to build relationships while being productive and helping the community.
“From the start, one of our big picture goals was to support Men’s Shed members in working towards independence,” CMHA Executive Director Julia Payson, said “We are proud to have worked with Men’s Shed to realize their goal of developing a board and governance structure and becoming officially registered as a BC Society.”
In September 2019, the group formally partnered with CMHA Vernon as one of the organization’s program offerings to bring greater awareness of senior men’s mental health to the community and provide a space and opportunity for senior men to thrive with purpose.
“When men reach retirement age, they often find themselves socially isolated. Men’s Shed is about connecting men to each other and to the larger community,” said Payson. Relationship loss, relocation, COVID isolation, retrenchment or early retirement from a job, loss of children following divorce, physical or mental illness are just some of the issues that men may find difficult to deal with on their own.
According to a 2017 BC Coroner’s report males accounted for 75 per cent of suicide deaths that year. The highest age-specific suicide death rate was among 50 to 59-year-old males. “Many men have learned from our culture to not talk about feelings and emotions or to take an interest in their own health and well-being,” said founding member Ray Verlage.
“We’re changing that culture at Men’s Shed, by knowing that this is a place where you can talk to one of the guys you’ve worked alongside, and are willing to listen or help another. We are looking to welcome men of all ages into The Shed. The mix of guys benefits everyone.” To date, Men’s Shed Vernon has built over 35 community and individual projects including outdoor furnishings for local community organizations. Helping other non-profit organizations is a high priority for the group. Currently, the group meets according to their COVID safety policy at Elephant Storage, whose owners have generously donated space for the men to meet for the past three years. The group has also kept connected by hosting online weekly “How Ya Doin?” meetings with 20 men consistently attending.
“Men’s mental health and wellness remains a high priority for CMHA Vernon in ongoing programs like nutrition, peer support, crisis line, and housing,” said Payson. “CMHA will continue to support Men’s Shed with educational and mental health resources.”
CMHA Vernon has transferred charitable funds and ownership of assets purchased with charitable funds designated to the Men’s Shed program, to the Community Foundation of the North Okanagan, which will continue to work with Men’s Shed members to achieve their charitable goals including finding a permanent working and gathering space that can accommodate larger groups, equipment and tools.
For more information, or to contact Men’s Shed Vernon, visit mensshedvernon.ca.