Image credits: Movember

TW – Depression, Anxiety and Suicide topics are discussed in this article. 

As November draws to an end, along with it ends the course of Movember. Movember is an annual event, occurring throughout the month of November, involving the growing of moustaches over the course of the month to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide. The origin story of Movember took place in 2003 Melbourne, Australia between two mates in a bar and the conversation topic of the moustache. Being out of fashion, these two men wanted to see if they could bring back the moustache, and they found 30 other men up for the challenge. As the trend formalised and grew in popularity, they registered the company and the website was formed, coining the phrase ‘Movember’. They originally agreed on the support of men with prostate cancer as their formal cause. With the Movember Foundation created in 2006, the support for the organisation began to flourish and they started to call their participants ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sistas’. Fast-forward to the present day, it has become the largest men’s health movement worldwide with 21 countries participating every year and more than 730 million AUD raised and forwarded to fund over 1,000 men’s health programs. Despite the initial focus on men’s prostate cancer, they have broadened their dedication to four main key men’s health issues: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. 

How can people get involved and what are the rules for Movember? The Movember organisation have formulated their own list of rules one must follow if they are to take part in Movember. “Rule one: Once registered at each Mo Bro must begin the 1st of Movember with a clean-shaven face. Rule two: For the entire month of Movember each Mo Bro must Grow and groom a moustache. Rule Three: Don’t fake it. No beards, no goatees and no fake moustaches. Rule Four: Use the power of the moustache to create conversation and raise funds for men’s health. Rule Five: Each Mo Bro must conduct himself like a true gentleman.”. 

The importance of Movember is crucial to the modern day, with men’s mental health and physical health becoming a growing concern all over the world. On average, men die 5 years earlier than women for physical issues that are largely preventable. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer amongst young men, and 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Although the physical health and well-being of men is a key component of the Movember movement, the stats on the mental health of men is a huge influence too. Suicide takes the life of a man every minute with males accounting for 69% of all suicides worldwide, and three times a many men dying from suicide than women in the UK alone. Common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and stress affected 1 in 8 men in 2014 in the UK. Despite the severity of these types of mental health disorders, it is just as important to discuss the lesser common disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia amongst men, which are also very prevalent. 

In an interview with Joel Peters, a fellow University of Sussex student who has been taking part in Movember, he shared the personal and sentimental inspirations for participating in the movement. Joel stated that he decided to launch his own sponsorship for Movember as part of his employment that he is currently undertaking for his placement year. “I don’t think I would have done it if it wasn’t for my job. Seeing how my place of employment works in partnership with Movember, and the impact it is having on men’s lives and health was eye opening and the inspiration for me, as I’d never given it a second thought.”. Joel stresses the importance that partaking in Movember has had on his awareness of not only his own well-being, but also the well-being of the men around him; “I hope that more Mo Bros and Sisters help support this cause at it affects everyone in our lives, so remember to check in on a mate and really ensure that they are doing ok.”. When asked if Movember and its awareness of men’s mental health is only really discussed in the month of November, Joel stated “Unfortunately, yes, men’s health is not spoken about enough…The month of November definitely helps men talk about their feelings…but this should really be done all year round, not just for one month.”. Joel also went on to discuss the stigmatisation that surrounds conversations of men’s mental health; “Men discussing their health has always been a sensitive topic, with the stigma around men being tough and not sharing their feelings…As men, we are constantly told to ‘man up’ and be ‘tough’.”. As a response to this stigmatisation, Joel claimed that social media has helped conversations about men’s health become more normalised; “…it has given men who need to share a platform to express themselves and seek help, both physically and mentally.” So far Joel has managed to raise £725 individually in his participation of Movember, which will be donated towards the Movember Foundation. 

Although it is important to create a sponsorship if you participate in Movember, the growth of moustaches in November itself is important in creating general awareness. Conversations about men’s health issues are not normalised enough yet. It does not matter if you are male, female or trans, the Movember team encourages anyone who can grow a moustache to participate, the key point is to raise awareness for men’s health. With November as the dedicated month of men’s mental health awareness, it is important to stress this issue of men’s health, as well as physical well-being, now more than ever. But it is not inextricably linked to just the month of November, men’s health is a vital issue that should be discussed all year round. With this de-stigmatisation, the increased support for Movember and more willingness to converse over men’s health between friends, family and partners, the fight for men’s health can only continue to grow stronger. 

Categories: Features

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