The first idea that comes to mind when seeing the term “Movember” is probably related to “move” or “movement” and the month of November. Indeed, it is a global movement in a way, with the goal of raising awareness and funds for men’s health topics such as mental health, prostate and testicular cancer, and suicide. The month of November plays an important role in this.
Movember aims to lower the number of males dying prematurely by supporting them in living a healthier, happier life and preventing suicide, for example. To be able to achieve this over time, the idea is to set the focus on conversations about mental health and health systems in general, – meaning: Let’s talk about physical and mental health in workplaces, sports clubs, anywhere. Researchers and clinicians from around the globe are being brought together to improve health care for men with testicular and prostate cancer.
The Movember movement started off in 2003. Three years later, programs started in Australia followed by New Zealand in 2008. Since then, the movement has extended its programs to the US, Canada, and the UK amongst others.
Why is the focus on men?
Men have a shorter life expectancy than women by about 6 years. Being perceived as the “stronger gender”, men often hold back and struggle to admit they might have a (mental) health issue. By not acknowledging that it is okay to struggle at times, the issue grows, and it often feels hard to reach out for support. Suicide rates in males are higher than in women.
Having said that, it can be challenging for healthcare providers and services to reach men. To bring the health care providers and male healthcare receivers together, the Movember movement has been started.
What to do in November?
Whilst this global movement is offering programs and support throughout the year, the month of November is more significant than others:
- It’s now your time to grow a moustache – a “Mo”, to make even more sense of the name
This is possibly the one thing the movement is known for. Growing a moustache symbolizes male health. By doing so, you might realize that you are attracting attention as this is not something you wear throughout the year. Therefore, you will be able to use this attention to start some important conversations about the topic and raise awareness about a good cause. Men participating in growing a “Mo” in November may feel a sense of togetherness and stand for something for their own good in a world in which their physical and mental health matters.
There are many initiatives to raise awareness of men losing their lives to suicide. The idea in November is to get as many men (and women who wish to participate as well) to run 60 km – the number represents 60 men dying globally every hour due to suicide. It does not matter whether you cover the distance in one go or spread over the month.
- Make time
Making time for your mates, having a beer together, going for a football match – whatever it is that you enjoy doing together – can bring a sense of connectedness and belonging. Show your male friends during November (and throughout the rest of the year) that you are there for them if they need support.
I am a woman and want to support the Movember movement
Whether the idea to support the movement comes from you wanting to raise awareness for your son, father, brother, grandpa, soul mate, and uncle, your support counts! Encourage the men in your life to connect with each other, to share their struggles openly, and reach out for support when needed – whether it’s for you or anyone else.
Raise awareness for the movement you just learned about by reading through this blog and be present when someone is struggling – it can save a life.
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Franziska Richter is a transcultural counsellor with the Willingness Team, offering counselling sessions to individuals and couples. She is particularly interested in sexuality, relationship issues, trauma and general mental health.