Movember: the global charity taking a lead on men’s health

Published by Rhys Taylor-Brown on November 22nd 2021, 10:10am

Every year, November is a time where men’s health enters the limelight and millions come together to raise awareness of issues blighting the wellbeing of men around the world.

On average, men are dying five years earlier than women for largely preventable reasons. Males account for 69 per cent of all suicides, a statistic indicative of the grave state of men’s mental health. Elsewhere, roughly 10.8 million men worldwide live their lives with a prostate cancer diagnosis. Its counterpart, testicular cancer, is another killer, and the most common cancer among young men.

It is for these reasons that in November each year, the Movember charity mobilises to address these issues on a global scale by funding projects across the world and raising awareness among men everywhere.

The charity is perhaps most well-known for the flagship ‘Mo’ campaign. As part of the movement, men participating in Movember around the world grow moustaches throughout the month of November and are sponsored for doing so, with all funds raised going to the Movember charity to be distributed among the projects it supports.

Raising awareness of these issues is equally as important as direct intervention. Globally on average, one man dies of suicide in every minute of every day and three in four UK suicides are being carried out by men, according to the charity. Movember focuses on prevention, early intervention and promoting mental wellbeing by looking at mental health through male eyes and providing the support that those at-risk need.

One of the ways in which Movember has sought to do this is by using sport as a conduit. Its Ahead of the Game programme uses sport to teach athletes, parents and coaches how to talk about mental health. It reviews how mental health issues can easily be recognised, how to respond to them, and knowing when to get help.

The issue of mental health has also been placed high on the agenda at ministerial level, with Dr Alex George appointed as the government’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador earlier in the year. He has personally been affected by suicide, having lost his brother in 2020. Since then, he has been a regular campaigner for making mental health an “absolute priority” at policy level.

Movember has lofty ambitions for raising men’s mental wellbeing over this decade, aiming to reduce the rate of male suicides by a minimum of 25 per cent by 2030.

Brendan Maher, Movember’s Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, commented: “We respond differently to life’s unexpected challenges. Sometimes, though, that can leave us feeling worried or overwhelmed. It’s our hope that we can connect men with the right support and equip their peers with the confidence and skills to reach out and help when it’s most needed.”

When it comes to addressing the two most common cancers in men, raising awareness of the signs and ensuring those affected can access support are key facets of Movember’s work. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lives. It is the most diagnosed cancer among all UK men, with a staggering 1.4 million males worldwide diagnosed with the disease each year.

A lot of Movember’s projects have been targeted toward prostate cancer research, and it has helped drive forward research in the field by 50 years. The organisation also has major targets for limiting the impact of this disease by aiming to halve the number of fatalities by 2030, as well as halving the number of those living with a reduced quality of life due to side effects from being treated for the condition.

Likewise, Movember also aims to halve the number of men dying from testicular cancer and those who are suffering from treatment. Survival chances for testicular cancer are over 95 per cent, but the long-term side effects from being treated for the disease can significantly hamper quality of life.

The Movember movement has also found success in building a true international community supporting its cause, as Max Goodberg, a ‘Mo Bro’ and supporter of the Movember campaign, testifies.

He said: “Through Movember, I've built a network of Mo Bros that not only stand together to fight cancer and spread awareness but are some of my very best friends. Mo Bros have been international travel buds, stood up with me at my wedding, and are the people I can always count on when it matters.”

Anyone interested in joining the Movember movement can find further information here.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article and need to speak to someone immediately, contact NHS 111 on 111, or contact Samaritans on 116 123.

If you are ever concerned that someone’s life is in immediate danger, call 999 or go directly to the emergency services.

Photo by Gemma Chua-Tran on Unsplash

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Authored By

Rhys Taylor-Brown
Junior Editor
November 22nd 2021, 10:10am

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