Imagine a sixty something man walking into his doctor's surgery, a year after retirement. After a chat the doctor decides that the man has depression. Should the doctor prescribe anti-depressants or should the doctor prescribe a Shed? Is the way we think not just about mental health but physical health changing in the future?
For someone who has been through the process of depression, counselling, anti depressants, the delay between needing help and getting help can be a long and tortuous one. 'Try and get out more' was something that I heard often. When all you want to do is hide under the covers all day or lose yourself in someone else's rubbish life watching Jeremy Kyle, then 'getting out' is not the thing that is likely to put at the top of your 'I am motivated to do this' list.
'Why not visit a shed' however, may just be enough to spark the need for human company, without the pressure of begin expected to participate in bouncy conversation, tell my most intimate life story or show off skills that I quite frankly don't possess.
When I talk to men about the sheds, 'you can turn up and just sit and drink tea all day if you like' . Pop along, I will make sure someone knows you are coming' (walking into a room full of strangers can be daunting for someone with low self esteem or lack of confidence). 'Just come along and pop your head around the door, you don't have to stay if you don't want to'. 'I will go along with you if you like'. Invariably the men stay and eventually join in with the activities and the banter. To watch the transformation from being an almost a broken man to one who is the first to welcome new members, telling jokes and agreeing to take on more and more projects, is a miracle indeed.
Probably much better than being told 'take these tablets every day and come back and see me in a few weeks'. (although the need for medication cannot be underestimated, a combined approach may yield better results and sooner)