STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Ipswich Men’s Shed members (from left), Dean Olafsen, Bob Lewitz and Ted Wedmaier announce the launch of a new support group for men.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: Ipswich Men’s Shed members (from left), Dean Olafsen, Bob Lewitz and Ted Wedmaier announce the launch of a new support group for men. David Nielsen

Secret men's business on support circle radar

UNDERNEATH the din of machines and chatter at Ipswich Men's Shed, something more serious can often be heard.

The space where cabinets are built and artwork created three days a week has also become a space where men can talk through the ordinary issues of life - cancer diagnoses, divorce, depression, addiction.

One member is now creating a formal version of this welcoming space with a support group named Circle of Support and Growth.

The group's first meeting will be an information session tonight, and creator Dean Olafsen is calling on Ipswich men to come along.

He decided to found the group after his own recovery from clinical depression last year.

"I didn't want to leave the house, I didn't want to leave the bed," Dean said.

"When I got to the point where I could open up and trust some of my own close male friends, I began to be aware that I wasn't the only one."

"There are a lot of guys who would not fess up, but statistics say that one in three men currently in Australia are experiencing some form of depression."

Dean has run similar support groups throughout his career and will be helped by two other men who will undergo an intensive training program before leading the group.

"It's not a therapy group and it's not a group aimed to rehabilitate," Dean said.

"The aim of the group basically is to get ordinary guys together in a circle and share their story."

"I believe there is a kind of support and friendship, and we've proved it here at the shed, that only men can offer other men."

The support group will be led by the stories each man shares, whether it is about health, domestic violence, unhappiness or loneliness.

Dean said the group had gained support from Ipswich's Domestic Violence Action Centre and planned to bring in a guest speaker in coming months to teach men to recognise escalating violent behaviours.

Any men interested in joining the group can also phone Dean on 0407 038 483.

It will be sponsored by Ipswich Men's Shed, but attendees do not need to be men's shed members to join the support group.

An information night will be held at Nourish Cafe, which will open especially for the event, from 7.30pm tonight and any man who would like to attend is invited.



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