Movember: Men’s Mental Health Month 2022

What is Movember?

Today marks the start of Movember. The campaign was founded in 2003 by The Movember Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness of three key areas of men’s health: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.

The name Movember is a portmanteau of ‘mo’ and ‘November.’ Just as the name suggests, the campaign runs through the month of November and involves the growing of moustaches to show support and raise money for the foundation.

There is a global men’s health crisis. Men are dying on average 5 years earlier than women, and an overwhelming number of these deaths are preventable. The Movember Foundation‘s mission is to not only reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030, but to tackle the stigma around talking about men’s physical and mental health head on.

The Movember Foundation works toward achieving this goal by investing strategically in over 1250 ground-breaking projects advancing men’s health in over 20 countries. These projects include widening access to cancer testing and mental health services, increasing men’s health educational resources, and tackling stereotypes that negatively impact men’s approach to their own health.

To date, Movember has raised over $837 million and played a role in shifting the narratives around men’s health.

How can you get involved in Movember?

It is really simple to become a Mo Bro this Movember – all you have to do is grow a moustache over the month of November and set up a fundraising link for donations.

You can take part alone, or as part of a group or workplace.

If growing a moustache is not really your thing, you should not let that stop you from joining the movement. Other activities you could do involve a BBQ or a competitive tournament with friends.

You could also commit to running or walking 60kms over the month. Those 60kms represent the 60 men lost to suicide each hour across the world.

Why is it important to talk about men’s mental health?

Movember actively seeks to combat the stigma associated with male mental illness and challenges the notion that emotional men are weak. For centuries, societal gender norms have dictated that for a man to be ‘strong’ or a ‘leader,’ he needs to suppress any emotion.

As a result, men are generally more reluctant to discuss their emotions than women and far less likely to seek treatment for any mental health struggles they may be experiencing. In fact, men report mental health concerns up to 50% less often than women.

It is important to remember that just because a man is not talking openly about any struggles does not mean that he is immune from the pressures, stresses, and anxieties of everyday life. In many cases, men may be suffering greatly, but they are doing so completely in silence in fear that they will be judged harshly for their struggles.

This societally enforced silence is causing men to die by suicide at alarming rates. It is estimated that one man dies by suicide every minute of every day. Suicide is the leading cause of death in men under the age of 50, and men account for 75% of all suicides.

While we have come a long way in changing the attitudes around men’s mental health, there are still too many men suffering in silence due to internalised societal gender norms. This means that unless there is a greater seismic change in the way we think, talk, and address men’s mental health, thousands of men are at risk of dying in this tragic and preventable way.

Why is critical to raise awareness of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer affects 1 in 9 men in their lifetimes. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate gland reproduce more rapidly than normal, which results in a tumour. Although prostate cancer often grows slowly at the start and may never cause any significant health issues, this is not the case for all men.

The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor about a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test when you reach the age of 50. However, there are certain circumstances that may require you to undertake PSA testing sooner. Men who are black are disproportionately affected by prostate cancer, as are men with a family history of the disease. If you fall into these categories, it is advised that you consult your doctor about PSA testing at 45.

How is prostate cancer detected?

Many men with prostate cancer never experience any symptoms. Sometimes the signs of prostate cancer are only detected by a doctor during a routine check-up.

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer:

  • A need to urinate more frequently.
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine.
  • Weak flow of urine.
  • Painful or burning urination.
  • Difficulty in having an erection.
  • Painful ejaculation.
  • Blood in urine or semen.
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.

Why do we need to talk more openly about testicular cancer?

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in young men. Although the average survival rate of testicular cancer is 95%, the chances of survival and of a better recovery are even higher if it is detected early. Unfortunately, 62% of men at risk of testicular cancer do not know the signs or how to check themselves.

Signs and symptoms:

  • An increase in the firmness of a testicle.
  • A difference in the appearance of a testicle.
  • A dull and sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum.
  • A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum.

There is no set or special way to check your testicles for cancer — what is important is that you do so regularly.

Why should you take part in Movember?

Consider joining Movember this year by starting a Movember challenge at your work, or among friends and family. Many of us know men who struggle with mental illness or cancer and yet unwilling to ask or accept the help they need. Showing your support not only helps a global movement, but also demonstrates to the men in your life that you care about their wellbeing.

Images by Ayo Ogunseinde, Marcos Paulo Prado, Ludvig Wiese, Erik Lucatero, Joseph Gonzalez,
Sedk Mahmoud, Jurica Koletić, Nartan Büyükyıldız, Logan Weaver, Mazda Mehrad, Scorpio Creative.