By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations
Come November, you may to notice more mustaches, especially on young men. It’s not a way to prepare for a cold winter; it’s the signature style and tool of Movember. The Movembe rmovement is sleek and hip movement in its efforts to to change the face of men’s health – literally. Movember asks men to grow a mustache (and use it to call attention to the movement) in the month of November.
For “Mo Bros”, the men who participate by growing a mustache, the goal is to “Use the power of the mustache to create conversations about men’s health and to raise funds for prostate cancer, testicular, cancer and mental health.” We’ve long known that men aren’t talking openly about their health. The same culture that encourages men to “man up” and ignore minor illnesses creates a culture of silence that surrounds major illnesses and diseases.
Movember has been wildly successful. What began as a contest between 30 friends in Australia is now an international event. So far, more than four million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas have taken part. They’ve raised $559,000,000 since 2003. The money they’ve raised has gone towards testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental health programs. As proud as the leaders of Movember are of the money they’ve raised, they’re equally enthusiastic about the conversations the mustaches have started.
When Robin Williams died earlier this year, there was a cry for conversation. Mental illness is stigmatizing for both genders. It can be hard for men to open up about depression and other mental health concerns, especially to other men. Since 2003, Movember has asked participants to donate their upper lip to men’s health. A large part of that fight is opening the floor for conversation. Movember hopes that conversation will lead to greater awareness and understanding of men’s health issues. With destigmatized conversation, Movember hopes men will take action to improve their health.
When it comes to mental health, we certainly need to talk. Mental health carries a stigma that keeps us silent, yet one in four people experience mental health issues worldwide. (This excellent TED article, “How Should We Talk About Mental Health?” is an informative starting point.) Men in the United States die by suicide far more often than women do. In 2010, men were 79 percent of all deaths by suicide. These are statistics that can change.
So, are you ready to lay down your razor and grow a ‘stache for a good cause? Or become a Mo Sista and participate without the mo? You’ve still got time to sign up, raise funds, and get others involved. Visit the Movember site and participate in the conversation about men’s health.