Shed opens door for men like Pat

ITS only three weeks since Pat Keane made his way to the Orange Men’s Shed for the first time, and he’s says it’s one of the best decisions he’s made in years.

“These fellows out here are just a great bunch of blokes,” he said.

Although Mr Keane, who is confined to a wheelchair following an accident, lives just a short distance away from the men’s shed in Lucknow, until recently he didn’t have the motivation to become involved.

Yesterday Mr Keane told National Mental Health Commission commissioner Rob Knowles what a difference attending the men’s shed had made in his life.

“I used to do a bit of wood-turning at home, but after I had an accident I had to give up my work as a mechanic,” he said.

Mr Knowles said visiting men’s sheds had given Australia’s first National Mental Health Commission, which was formed in January this year, an insight into the role they play in the physical and mental health of men.

“When men leave their jobs they often feel very isolated and it can be a difficult time for them mentally,” he said.

Mr Knowles said the Orange Men’s Shed’s operating plan, which brings health services on site to provide information to the men, could be the catalyst for addressing mental and general health issues in an atmosphere where men feel comfortable.

Mr Knowles said although the commission’s first report to Prime Minister Julia Gillard on the state of what is and what isn’t working in national mental health strategies will not include input from the two-day Orange visit, commissioners’ observations from this visit will be encapsulated into the next report card to be delivered to the Prime Minister at the end of 2013.

Commissioners have also extensively toured the Bloomfield mental health campus during their visit to Orange.

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