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Movember - bringing attention to men's health

Let’s talk men’s mental health. We should be talking about it all the time, not just in November. However there’s no escaping the increase in men’s facial hair at the moment, predominantly the moustache. If you haven’t already heard of Movember, the chances are you will have come face-to-face with the finished product.

Movember is a charity that campaigns to raise awareness of serious men’s health issues through the light-hearted and inclusive manner of growing a moustache (or a “mo”) during the month of November. Friends, family and colleagues can sponsor the ‘tache grower, with stylish – but more often comical – results.

The sponsor money goes towards funding Movember’s four key focus areas – prostate cancer, testicular cancer, physical inactivity, and poor mental health. Mental health issues can affect anyone at any time, but men may find it more difficult to address mental health issues than women - whether by confiding in their loved ones or by seeking medical help.

The stigma of men’s mental health issues

The stigma around mental health can be a barrier to seeking treatment, particularly among men who may feel pressured to conform to the ‘strong and silent’ masculine ideal. The fear that mental health problems are a sign of weakness may prevent men from addressing their issues before they reach crisis point.

One in eight men are diagnosed with a mental health problem every year. By looking at the issue of mental health through a male lens, Movember encourages men to be more open about mental health issues. The charity also aims to “challenge the negative aspects of masculinity and the impact this can have on mental health.”

Movember has funded a number of international mental health initiatives, including promoting mental health and wellbeing with men and boys, and programs to support farmers and veterans.

Men’s mental health and suicide

Mental health problems among men can be deadly. As our previous post on male suicide points out, British men are three times more likely to die from suicide than women. Movember states that on average, thirteen men take their lives through suicide every day. Suicide is the single biggest cause of death in men under 35. Promoting good mental health among men works towards addressing the issues that may lead a man to take his own life.

Men’s mental health and crime

Statistics on imprisonment, violent crime, drug use and missing persons are also overwhelmingly male. Men are more likely to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol as a way of coping with mental health problems, which can create further problems in other areas of life such as employment and maintaining relationships.

While conventional diagnoses of mental health issues may not take these behaviours into account, the Men’s Health Forum suggests that crime and violence indicate evidence of male emotional and psychological distress. Early intervention and stigma reduction in mental health may help to prevent such behaviours.

How can I get involved?

You can support the Movember Foundation in a number of ways. By signing up to grow a moustache and raising sponsorship money, you will also be raising awareness of Movember. You can also host an event, support other mo’ growers, or start a group sponsorship at work or in your community. Find out more and get involved on the Movember website.

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