I am moved and overwhelmed by the love and support of the world in raising awareness of gynaecological cancer and other women’s health charities such as the McGrath foundation in support of breast cancer. I was completely unaware of the campaigning behind Movember, regarding its message, values, foundations and how it is more than just a moustache.
“Men are dying too young. We can’t afford to stay silent” is the powerful message that MOvember aims to spread. The charity has stated that it is a health crisis in need of a major change with aims of reducing male suicide rates by 25% by 2030. It is rare, but for the one month, men’s health firmly is in the spotlight, and there’s no better time to check in with yourself and those around you.
Tackling the beast of suicide prevention requires breaking stigmas through open and honest conversations about one’s own mental health. This was demonstrated by my university lead topic coordinator whom had the courage to share his story in front of the class. It was not expected he did so, but his venerability was the unspoken key message of what the whole MOvember campaign is all about – that raising awareness is much more important than raising money, to be open and proactive in encouraging their male loved ones, friends and colleagues to look after themselves.
Inspired by the messages conveyed from his story, I too have had personal battles with the clouded fog in the mind, known as mental health. Whether this be hardships in family, relationships, individual expectation or even diversity, I am lucky to have a support network that is here to listen and shine light to help. But at the same time I also understand the difficulty of bringing up such conversations. To keep thoughts and feelings bottled up with a ‘she’ll be right’ mentality reduces the feeling of selfishness and being a burden to others but unfortunately goes against the principles of the sole message of MOvember.
In this month, I encourage everyone to visit the MOvember website and immerse themselves in the key messages the campaign aims to achieve. Messages such as ‘know thy nuts’ where men are encouraged to observe and feel their testicles as a screening for testicular cancer or how Ollie the founder of MOvember received no funding or support and risked everything to push for awareness of men’s health (even if it meant he was homeless with a moustache).
The unspoken mental medicine of exercise should also be noted as exercise is a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment. It relieves tension and stress, boosts physical and mental energy, and enhances well-being through the release of endorphins. Anything that gets you moving can help, but you’ll get a bigger benefit if you pay attention instead of zoning out.
Men’s health is in crisis but during the month of November we can join MOvember in taking on the battle of mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. My fellow Exercise Physiology cohort are also preparing and participating in MOve challenges for men’s health. If you’d like to join our cause having fun and raising awareness for MOvember, you can register yourself or a team.
- By Hoang Nguyen (5th year, Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology)