It’s that time of year again! Your typically clean-shaven male colleagues, friends and family members stop shaving and start trying to grow their facial hair – which may or may not develop into a full-out, fabulous facial triumph.
But Movember is more than judging which of the men in your daily lives are best at growing a wicked Mo.
In fact, Movember has become an incredible social movement since its humble beginnings in 2003, when two friends convinced 30 guys to grow a moustache to generate a conversation about Men’s health. Today, more than 15 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, have raised $760 million (CAD) to fund 1,200+ men’s health projects. Clearly, the moustache is capable of generating much more than chatter. And by using the power of the moustache, Movember shines a light on some of the biggest health issues men face today.
Why? Well for starters, men die an average of six years younger than women, from largely preventable diseases. Far beyond an annual moustache growing campaign, Movember is dedicated to giving the topic of men’s health the attention it deserves, and, to put it bluntly; stop men from dying too young.
A Spotlight on Men’s Mental Health
Remember we just said that men die early from largely preventable reasons? Consider this: the leading cause of death in men aged 15 – 44 is suicide. And suicide is highly preventable. Here are some other astonishing stats: 1 in 10 Canadian men will experience major depression throughout the course of their lives, and 75% of suicides around the world are men.
The thing is, there’s a stigma around mental illness in general, and depression in men specifically, which makes it difficult for men to acknowledge they might be depressed or to take action and get help. After all, men are supposed to be the rocks people lean on – not the ones who need support from others. When it comes to emotions, men are typically raised to believe four things:
1) Don’t talk about what’s bothering you
2) Don’t share your feelings
3) To simply “tough it out”
4) That they’re weak if they talk about their struggles
As a result, when men struggle with a major upheaval in life – such as the end of a relationship, a job loss or death of a parent – they tend to bottle up their feelings and isolate themselves. Unsurprisingly, this kind of behavior is not good for their mental or physical health and typically leads to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and yes – in some cases suicide.
What Movember Is Doing About It
The Movember Foundation is once again harnessing the power of the moustache to openly acknowledge the importance of men’s mental health, making it OK to talk about it and deal with it. (Keep in mind, everyone has mental health – it’s not the same as mental illness. And just like physical health, it’s something everyone should take care of in order to stay well).
Recognizing that men are not always the best at talking about things, Movember has funded projects with a strong online presence, including sites where men can get tips and insights on how to get through their problems from other guys that have been there, as well as online projects that provide step-by-step tips for friends and family, helping to support the men in their lives.
Whether you’re a man who needs help getting through a tough time, or you’re a friend of a man you think could use some support, it’s not always easy to know where to start, or how to move forward.
What You Can Do About It
If you have a man in your life you think needs support, here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- You don’t have to be a mental health expert to start a conversation. Your job isn’t to diagnose his problems
- You don’t have to have all the answers
- Just be there and listen without judgment
- It’s never too early or too late to support a guy who might be fighting depression
- Understand that men aren’t always comfortable asking for help – the first step will be for you to reach out
- Providing support for a man with depression requires a great deal of empathy, patience, understanding and encouragement
- Yes, it’s likely going to be difficult and awkward at first. But starting a conversation about depression could actually change a man’s life
Where You Can Find out More
It’s not always easy to start the conversation, understood. So check out some of these really useful sites that give you tips on how to reach out, how to listen, and how to encourage the man in your life to take action. You are not alone.
Movember Foundation: Get tips if you’re going through a tough time, or resources to help talk to a man who might be struggling.
Headsupguys.org: This Movember-funded project provides an online place for men to hear other men’s stories of depression, get tips on ways to cope, and get loads of advice on all different topics.
HealthyDads.ca; This site offers information, resources and tools to help promote mental health in men.
Want to Get Involved? Here’s How:
Grow a Mo: Join millions of men around the world to grow a moustache in support of men’s health.
Move for Movember: Set a distance goal and work towards it. Get active and raise funds!
Donate: To a Mo Bro or Mo Sista’s effort, or to the Movember Foundation directly.
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