Be innovative in approaching mental health issues… it can change lives
Projects like Men’s Shed Govan can create a sense of worth among users
Projects like Men’s Shed Govan are an alternative to traditional treatments, and more enjoyable for those who use them
The Scottish Government is trying to promote and encourage social prescribing and ‘more-than-medicine’ approaches to dealing with mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and isolation.
It wants to instead support a sense of worth, purpose and well-being by encouraging people to take in activities and groups that give feelings of belonging.
The Men’s Shed Govan, which I set up in partnership with a group of my patients, is a perfect example of this approach, and the evidence for how it changes lives is staggering.
The Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland had the insight to see the potential in the project by providing an initial grant to start the facility. But more importantly the GPs I work with at Govan Health Centre in Glasgow, understood the importance of having such a resource set up in our area, and have given me several hours a week from my normal duties to focus on this important project.
The men are thoroughly enjoying attending the shed and taking part in the various activities on offer. The sense of camaraderie is evident to see straightaway, but also they are enjoying helping other community groups and individuals by sharing their skills and carrying out small projects for them.
This in turn makes them feel useful and productive in the community, and the community benefits from this.
Health checks and advice
This shed stands out from other ‘Men’s Shed’ projects in that it has a nurse attached who can do health checks and give advice on long-term conditions and promote healthier lifestyles. I have already detected high blood pressure in three men who had been undiagnosed and who are now being treated, potentially preventing future development of heart disease or stroke.
I would like to see more innovative projects like this being set up and funding more freely available to help with ongoing running costs. In the grand scheme of things, this kind of facility is much more cost-effective than medicines or the use of GP time and mental health services, and infinitely more enjoyable for the men who use them.
Sarah Everett, a practice sister at Govan Health Centre, was winner of the 2019 Patient’s Choice Award at the RCNi Nurse Awards
The Patient's Choice Award is supported by The Patients Association