Transition house program manager Melrose Tomlinson, from left, Archway Society co-executive director Sherry Demetrick, Men’s Shed club members John Halper, David Friesen, Harry Knopf and Sam Lachman collaborated on building a gazebo structure for the women rising in the home to use during their time outdoors. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star file)

Transition house program manager Melrose Tomlinson, from left, Archway Society co-executive director Sherry Demetrick, Men’s Shed club members John Halper, David Friesen, Harry Knopf and Sam Lachman collaborated on building a gazebo structure for the women rising in the home to use during their time outdoors. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star file)

Vernon men’s mental health club gains independence

Before becoming its own society, Men’s Shed was under the wings of the CMHA

A group promoting the mental health and well-being of men in Vernon has stepped out from under the Canadian Mental Health Association umbrella to become its own independent society.

Men’s Shed started in 2018 by a few senior men who realized the need for men in retirement to build relationships and lend a hand to the community.

The group formally partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association Vernon (CMHA) in September 2019, bringing greater awareness of senior men’s mental health needs and bringing space and opportunity for men to thrive.

“When men reach retirement age, they often find themselves socially isolated,” CMHA Vernon and District executive director Julia Payson said Friday, March 5.

But, Payson said since the beginning, it was CMHA’s goal to support Men’s Shed in working towards independence.

The club focuses on bringing men together through production and charity. So far, Men’s Shed has built more than 35 community and individual projects including a gazebo for a local transition house.

READ MORE: Vernon Men’s Shed build women gazebo

“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,” founding member Ray Verlage said. “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.”

In the face of COVID-19, the group meets according to its safety plan at Elephant Storage’s donated space and online in ‘How ya doin’?’ meetings that see an average attendance of around 20 men.

“Men’s mental health and wellness remains a high priority for CMHA Vernon in ongoing programs like nutrition, peer support, crisis line, and housing,” Payson said. “CMHA will continue to support Men’s Shed with educational and mental health resources.”

“We are looking to welcome men of all ages into The Shed,” Verlage said. “The mix of guys benefits everyone.”

For more information, or to contact Men’s Shed Vernon, visit mensshedvernon.ca.

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@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@vernonmorningstar.com

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