By Elin Alexander, Second Year, Politics and International Relations
The Movember movement started in Australia in 2003 when Travis Garone and Luke Slattery met up for a beer and a chat in Melbourne. They managed to recruit 30 men to sign up to the challenge and grow a moustache to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).
After just one year the charity donated the biggest single cheque the PCFA had received. Since then, the charity has spread across over twenty countries and has worldwide fundraisers. It has also extended its reach to help men’s testicular cancer as well as working with men’s health and mental health and suicide prevention.
Now many of us know Movember to be an annual fundraiser among rugby players with World Cup players signing up to the challenge annually in an attempt to prove that even players playing a sport typically associated with being manly are willing to discuss mental health.
This is an attempt to disassociate mental health issues with the idea of weakness. According to a study by the Movember campaign, 58% of British men would commonly talk to their friends whilst only 50% would commonly discuss with their partner or family members.
However, 25% of men questioned said they wouldn’t mention that they were having problems they found too hard to cope with, highlighting the need to spark a discussion.
Although Movember is a charity aiming to help men in particular, its not only men who are raising funds. In an attempt to allow women to get involved, the Movember Foundation created a ’Make a Move’ campaign where you can run or walk 60km over the course of a month in honour of the sixty men lost to suicide every hour.
In 2019 suicide rates in England and Wales were at the highest rate in twenty years
This is a fantastic opportunity for women and men, who really care about the issues Movember are trying to tackle, to get involved. In addition to this of course, women have been making donations to the cause and can also help by sparking conversations with men about their mental health in an attempt to remove the stigma surrounding the topic.
So why is Movember so important this year? In 2019 suicide rates in England and Wales were at the highest rate in twenty years with men’s suicide accounting for three quarters of these figures. A spokesperson for the charity Mind stated that with more people seeking mental health support, the system needs to be equipped to deal with this and currently with rising suicide rates.
It is clear that the system is currently failing the most vulnerable in society. The Movember campaign looks at mental health through a male lens with focus on prevention, early intervention and health promotion and an aim to reduce male suicides.
This campaign is therefore incredibly important as typically, mental health can be quite the taboo subject, especially among men. However, Movember has helped to start a conversation regarding mental health as well as providing the means to support those in need.
Also, with Covid-19 and the lockdowns impacting people’s physical health tremendously, a significant lack of focus has been put on people’s mental wellbeing. Some people develop new hobbies, eat cleaner and do more exercise over lockdown, for others it hasn’t been so easy.
Those struggling with mental health issues and the anxiety during this global pandemic have possibly faced the hardest year of their lives.
Movember’s work in filling the gaps in an exceptionally underfunded mental health system for many, has quite literally been the difference between life and death. So keep growing those moustaches and donating where you can, this charity really is some doing exceptional work.
Featured Image: Charlie Dighero
Have you taken part in Movember this year? Let us know!