Making mental health blokes’ business

Life’s transitions can catch you on the hop – even if you think you can see them coming. Many men find themselves at a bit of a loss when work life changes or they find themselves on their own.

It is good to know that there are things you can do to shift the malaise. Getting older can mean you have more time to make new friends, learn new skills or share your expertise, talk current affairs over lunch or head out on bus trips.

Just ask retired doctor Peter Dobson, who is in his element in the well-equipped woodwork shop at the Men’s Shed at the Hawthorn AgeWell Centre. He’s utterly enjoying doing woodwork, something he’s always hankered after but never had time to do. He’s made pizza paddles, chess boards and more – wonderful gifts for the family. He says he comes in as much for the companionship as the woodwork, which he thoroughly enjoys.

Retired text book publisher Russell Green says there’s sheer exhilaration in working with wood and the camaraderie is wonderful. Others admit they just pop in to chat.

Retired social worker Ken Rosenhain volunteers with the Uniting AgeWell Social Connections Program where he takes a group of older men to lunch every fortnight.

Ken says they are all single, with some of them widowed and many aged 70 years or more. He and another volunteer pick everyone up from their homes and take them to the Ringwood restaurant, and then drive them home after lunch.

“We talk about sport and current affairs, and then when everyone is relaxed, the conversation sometimes gets into how they’re coping and how they’re feeling,” Ken explains. “The lunches usually go for about two hours.”

Ken says his experience from his decades in social work, is that men can be reluctant to open up to how they are really feeling. “Some of them can be really lonely when they find themselves single again after all these years,” Ken explains. “They think they will cope, but some of them don’t. They’re really isolated.”

Burwood East’s Julia Connell says she can’t believe the difference in her husband, John, since he’s returned to the social connection group at Forest Hill AgeWell Centre.

“When it closed during COVID, John used to just sit on the couch and watch TV and then doze off,” she explains. “It just wasn’t much of a life for him. Now the centre is open again I drop him off and he has a wonderful time. He seems to have found a new energy! He always comes home and says what fun he had, even though he can’t remember what he did.”

John, who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, says, “The best thing about coming here is all the friends I have made.”

Learn more about how we support Mental Health and Wellbeing

Our Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework

Uniting AgeWell's Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework is a reflection of our commitment to enabling communities to age well and individuals to live to their potential.

We beleive all elements of mental health and wellbeing are of equal importance and structure our assesment, care planning and services to meet the unique needs of each individual.

In seeking to advance the principle of person-centred care for older people, our Framework outlines the approach and measures we will take to support the mental health and wellbeing of our customers and staff.

Read our Mental Health and Wellbeing Framework

Mental Health Framework Panel