Therapist looking to start second Men’s Shed

HANNA PETERSEN Citizen staff



Glacier Media


A local therapist in Prince George is working to start a second Men’s Shed in the community to promote mental health. A Men’s Shed is a physical space to address men’s tendency to suffer from isolation, loneliness and depression, particularly after retirement. Men’s Sheds are modeled after an Australian movement which started in 2007 and the first Canadian shed started in Winnipeg in 2011. In 2014, the Vanderhoof Men’s Shed opened and it has now grown to over 100 members. In a shed, men gather informally and get together for activities like woodworking projects, cooking, bike repairs, music or watching sports. The idea is that the connection to each other through shared activities helps foster positive mental health. “I worked as a hospital social worker. Basically, my job description... was meeting people on the worst day of their lives,” explained Brent Goerz, who now works as a therapist. “I worked until I couldn’t.” Georz said he was suffering from what could be called burnout but it was more complex than that. Fortunately, his wife found him a therapist in Vanderhoof and within a month he’d heard about the Men’s Shed. “Long story short I ended up spending two years as a member of the Vanderhoof Men’s Shed,” said Goerz. “We just kind of hung out and I was kind of peripherally involved in some of the woodworking stuff going on, but not really, it was more just hanging out with other men. I knew that Prince George needed to have a shed.” There is currently a PG Men’s Shed operating through the Canadian Mental Health Association of Northern B.C. (CMHA) which started last year, but Goerz says there is a need for more. “After I was involved in in the CMHA shed I said, ‘well, you know, we need to kind of have them in other pockets,’” said Goerz. He said he’s partnered with AWAC and Olive’s Branch, which is a sober living transitional house program for individuals who are on a journey of sobriety, to create a safe space for these men to gather informally. “Here you’ve got these men who want to contribute, whether it is to get back in the workforce, or just have a safe place to hang out where it’s not programmed,” said Goerz. “We’re looking and exploring around a few locations (in the) downtown area, that would be within walking distance of the Olive’s Branch. It would be a place that most folks could just commingle with just regular people.” Goerz said the shed is a work in progress but the pieces are being finalized and he hopes to raise awareness and funds for the project during Movember, which is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues. “For the month of November, I’ve kind of put out a challenge that I’m donating 10 per cent of all the proceeds of my individual male clients to the shed,” said Goerz. He’s also encouraging other mental health providers or counselors to consider donating some of their proceeds to the project during November as well. Goerz noted that loneliness as a mental health issue is extremely harmful and the detrimental health effects are similar to a person smoking two packs a day. “It’s just to hang out, but interestingly enough, these mental health topics come up,” he said.