Meet Chris – Carpentry tutor in the Men’s Shed

“When someone like myself opens up about their feelings, others feel instantly reassured,” said Chris who teaches carpentry in Teamwork’s Men’s Shed – part of a rapidly-growing national initiative of workshops for men to improve their health and wellbeing by pursuing practical interests.

“As we work away on our projects, a topic of conversation comes up and we all get involved – sharing our often identical experiences of anxiety and depression. Men find it more difficult to build social connections than women, but being distracted by our work somehow makes it easier for us all to speak freely. We all contribute to help one another which is a beautiful process.”
Chris, whose degree was in product design and trade is to build bespoke furniture, says he has been using his practical skills most of his adult life to overcome his own mental health issues. “My bi-polar means I have a depressive personality, so my way of coping is to stay constantly distracted with my work.

When the job at Teamwork came up, with the ability to teach carpentry and support people I could really relate to, I knew it was the perfect role. I still have my own daily struggles, but I have learnt techniques to cope. If I can share that for someone else to take on board, then it helps me feel as good about myself just as much as it helps them.

The Men’s Shed opens on a Monday for up to five men who have been referred by local agencies, counselling providers, or have heard about the project from others. It’s a Monday because that’s the day that tends to be the most difficult for people with depression.

Chris said, “We enjoy our weekends and then Monday comes around and it’s back to the grind. I have always struggled with Mondays myself, but I don’t anymore, and neither do those who come to the Men’s Shed. The feeling of support and strength we get from each other fills us all up enough to cope with the rest of the week, and we all find ourselves wishing for Monday to come around again.

The supportive community we’ve developed through the way I teach and things I share has made a real difference to the health and wellbeing of local men.