The Lowdown on Movember
Since 2008, men around the world have sported moustaches throughout the month of November, raising both funds and awareness around men’s health. The focus of Movember has traditionally been prostate and testicular cancer, though in recent years that’s expanded to include mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
From Humble Beginnings...
And it’s not limited to Ireland. This is a worldwide movement, which actually started in Australia when two friends met in a pub in Melbourne and decided to grow moustaches for the month of November. “It was just a bit of fun at first,” explains Jack O’Connor of Movember Ireland. “But they managed to rope 30 guys into sporting moustaches for the month. Then, people started to donate money and the idea of raising funds for a charity was born.”
Making Behavioural Changes
Though sporting a moustache for a month is fun, the campaign’s objective runs deeper. “What we’re really starting to focus on is changing men’s behaviour,” Jack explains. “The guys who grow a mo for us become walking, talking billboards for men’s health; they spark that conversation. When it comes to prostate cancer, one of the things we discovered early on was the importance of simply getting men to go to the doctor and take ownership of their health. If we can flick that switch, that will go further than any of the programmes.” For Jack, who studied psychology, this applies to both physical and mental health issues. “We’re really taking an upstream approach”, he says. “We’re trying to shift the culture through education and awareness around suicide prevention, encouraging men to talk about things. We want the people around them to dig a bit deeper, to ‘unmute’ the conversation.”
When it comes to male suicide, the statistics are pretty shocking. “Around the world, a man dies from suicide every minute, which is over half a million deaths every year,” says Jack. It’s important to remember though that through talking, vulnerable men can come through these dark, difficult periods. “Anyone we’ve spoken to who’s attempted to take their own life has said that it was a temporary state of mind, and that they’re very grateful they weren’t successful. I think that tells us that we really need to change. If we can educate people on how to support and encourage men to be more vocal, we can have a massive impact. We need to drop this archaic image of the stoic, stiff-upper-lipped man who has absolutely no emotions and feels nothing.”
When it comes to physical health, Jack says it’s all about knowing your body. “When you’re familiar with what’s normal”, says Jack, “you’ll notice when something’s not right.” Regular self-examination is key, as it means men will hopefully notice any lumps before they’ve had a chance to spread. “With things like prostate cancer,” says Jack, “early detection can not only save your life, it also mitigates the side effects of treatment. These can really change your standard of living, affect your relationship, your mental health – alter the course of your life indefinitely. Early detection gives you more options in terms of decision-making and empowers you to have control over the situation. We don’t just want men to ‘survive’, we want them to have happier, healthier, longer lives.”
How Can I Get Involved?
1. Grow a Mo:
If you can, you can simply ‘Grow a Mo’, and raise funds through private donations.
2. Host an Mo-ment:
Virtual or physical, your mo-ment can take the form of a karaoke night, a bake sale or a party – anything that involves getting your friends together with the aim of raising money and awareness about men’s health.
3. Take the ‘Move Challenge’:
You can also opt for the ‘Move Challenge’ which involves any form of physical activity – accomplished on your own or with others – in aid of Movember.
4. Mo Your Own Way
“This is our catch-all option”, Jack explains. “If you have a unique idea that doesn’t fit into Grow, Move or Host, you’re absolutely welcome to Mo Your Own Way.”
So, what are you waiting for? It’s almost Movember! Click here to find out more about the movement, and remember to tag all of your online activity with #Movember.