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Male wellbeing concerning

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Frank Higgins says Men’s Shed, Groups and Programs allow for social connection within communities. Photo – Helen Tatchell

By Meg Kennedy

Suicide was the cause of death for more men in Moorabool than pancreatic cancer or heart failure, an alarming report has revealed.
A report released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) revealed suicide was the eighth-leading cause of death in males living in Moorabool between 2013-2017.
The Mortality Over Regions and Time (MORT) report demonstrated 19 male suicides in the Moorabool local government area (LGA) within the five-year period.
Suicide was recorded as 3.8 per cent of all male deaths in Moorabool compared to just three female suicides.
The eighth-highest ranking matches that of neighbouring LGA City of Ballarat, which reported 60 male suicides over the five-year period.
The figures follow the ongoing Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, which recently focussed on the accessibility of mental health services in regional and rural areas of the state.
Ballan Men’s Shed Vice President Frank Higgins said social groups for men in the community, such as Men’s Shed and Men’s Groups, are “absolutely” important, as they allow for social connection and an open dialogue.
“About a third of our members come in just for a chat…we often refer to a man who came in the early stages who used to live alone on a farm not far out of town…once he joined our group, he could barely get home until the afternoon because everyone wanted to talk to him,” explained Mr Higgins.
“But to get him out of his farm…that is the hardest part, I think, for men to say, ‘oh yeah, I’ll come along and see what happens.’”
Mr Higgins said the Ballan Men’s Shed was open for any new members who are wanting to get to know other like-men in the community.
“We would really like for local fellas to come along and see what’s going on; come and meet some of the fellas, and there is such a variety that surely there is somebody you can communicate with and tell stories about yourself, or anybody,” he said.
Improvement in mental health is a key factor of Moorabool Shire Council’s Municipal Public Health and Wellbeing Plan for 2017-2021.
Desired outcomes and strategies for mental health improvement in the Shire include improving accessibility of mental health services in the region, informing the community of available mental health services, and addressing stigma associated with mental health.
Moorabool Shire Council was contacted for comment on its response to the figures, and the current progress of mental health improvement in the Shire but did not respond in time for publication.
Coronary heart disease, Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were the number-one causes of death for men and women in Moorabool between 2013-2017, respectively.
If you or anyone you know needs help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.