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Movember – Men’s Mental Health And The Stigma Around Masculinity

Photo by: Rubina Freiberg

Approximately 800,000 people die from suicide globally each year, according to the latest figures of the World Health Organization. This means that every 40 seconds an individual somewhere in the world decides to end their own life. Statistics show that suicide is the second leading cause of death of 15-29-year-olds worldwide. With 127,540 global deaths in 2016 and a 35% higher number compared to female figures, suicide is more prevalent among young males.

In Ireland, the male suicide rate has decreased by 10.6% between 2017 and 2018, as the most recent Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report from December 2019 states. However, the number of male suicides at 282 in 2018 remains four times as high as the number of female deaths.

Consistently fighting those alarming figures global charity ‘Movember’ aims to reduce the number of men dying too young by 25% by 2030. To reach this objective, their work concerns the three biggest health issues facing men: mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer. So far, the charity has funded over 1,250 men’s health projects in 20 countries around the world and raised 74€ million over the last year.

Click on the video below to find out about the projects supporting men’s mental health.

“Movember’s mental health mission is to break down stereotypes around masculinity and rebuild the understanding of what it is to ‘be a man’.”

In a report from 2014, Movember has provided evidence for the importance of a gender-based approach when it comes to mental health support programmes. One of their key findings backing this idea is a “strong relationship between adherence to traditional masculinity and poorer mental health help-seeking, higher levels of mental health stigma, suicide attempts and body image concerns.”

Furthermore, their research found that mental health programmes for men should focus on ways to encourage them to become emotionally expressive. Struggling to express emotions is the one aspect of masculinity that is most linked to poor mental health, difficulty of reaching out for help, the stigma around it and the possibility of suicide. Through this year’s donations, the charity has sponsored an in-depth study of mental health professionals in order to support them deliver more engaging care tailored to men.

Additional funded projects include ‘Movember Conversations’, which is an online guide on how to have conversations with men who might be suffering. By offering multiple-choice options the website leads through typical scenarios teaching how to ask, listen, encourage action and check-in, as well as how to spot the signs of someone who is going through a tough time.

In 2019 the organisation held one of their ‘SpeakEasy’ events in Dublin, for the first time outside Australia. On this occasion, guys are brought together in a relaxed atmosphere to help them better understand how to be there for a mate who is struggling.

Grow a moustache for Movember. Photo by: Rubina Freiberg

To raise money for Movember, which is a mix of moustache and November, there are different fundraising challenges to participate in. Show off your beard-growing abilities and grow a moustache or run 60 km during Movember for the 60 men who die of suicide every hour across the world. Also, you can think up events that will encourage friends and family to donate, as well as ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ which is the newest fundraiser to inspire donations.

Why a moustache? This story begins with two mates from Australia having a conversation about fashion trends and joking about reviving the trend. Subsequently, they decided to persuade their mates to grow a ‘Mo’ and to make the campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer. Since then their community has grown from 30 guys taking on the challenge back in 2003 to over six million worldwide.

To support Movember, click here to donate.

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