We are entering November and what a time to be alive it is. The festive season is upon us with preparations for the holidays starting to kick off. Halloween hasn’t even passed and we’re already seeing Christmas decorations.
To add to Benjamin Franklin’s incredibly positive quote that nothing is certain except death and taxes, you could also assert that as Christmas approaches, you are sure to hear Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas is you” no matter where you are or where you go.
It’s a great time of the year to enjoy quality food and times with the people we cherish. As we prepare to connect with friends and family, it’s as good a time as any to check in with one’s physical and mental health, as well as the health of those around us.
The reality of mental health
Globally, more than one billion individuals suffer from mental health disorders, with one person committing suicide every 40 seconds. Individuals experiencing mental health problems can face a wide range of feelings and symptoms, from depression to anxiety. One of the toughest challenges with mental health is reaching out to friends, family, or professionals to discuss what one is going through.
It doesn’t help when our societies or cultures stigmatise mental health illnesses which can further isolate individuals and prevent them from seeking help or treatment. Societal norms and stigma can be even greater for men who have been told, implicitly or explicitly, that they shouldn’t show their emotions and remain “strong” in the face of adversity.
Sombre statistics we need to address
When it comes to men’s health, the statistics are daunting. 75% of suicides in the United Kingdom are by men, with suicide being the leading cause of death for men under 35. That is coupled with the fact that only 36% of the requests for psychological therapy services are done by men. Men live lives that are on average 5 years shorter than women, with many of the reasons being preventable.
A leading charity leading the way for men’s health
Founded in 2003, the Movember Foundation has stepped up to raise awareness and funds for men’s physical and mental health. Since then, they have funded more than 1250 projects focusing on improving men’s health and have gotten more than 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sisters involved in supporting the cause. They are on a mission to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25% by 2030.
Throughout the month of November, the charity encourages individuals to raise awareness through a wide range of activities, including growing a moustache! Mo members are encouraged to speak up about how men are impacted by both health issues and raise funds to support the efforts of the Movember Foundation.
How to get involved and ensure inclusive participation
This year will be my first time participating in Movember. I haven’t been clean-shaven in nearly 3 years but on the 1st of November, I will be baby-faced with the ambition of growing a fabulous moustache for a month. My personal motivation for raising awareness is for my bros who have experienced issues with physical or mental health, as well as to encourage my bros to speak up about how they are feeling about their own mental health.
Similarly to when I talk about taking climate action in my blog posts, Movember will not be an individual effort as we have created a team at Emitwise to get colleagues involved in supporting men’s health. Within the company, we will be organising an event to increase awareness and raise funds to support the charity. Some of us will be growing a beautiful moustache and we’ll make sure to update our colleagues, friends, and family with regular pictures.
However, not everyone can grow a moustache or wants to do so. That’s why we tried to make Movember as inclusive as possible for any Emitwise bro or sister. Our colleagues will also have the opportunity to run or walk 60km for the 60 men we lose every hour to suicide. It might be easier for men to relate to men’s health, but that doesn’t mean Movember events or activities should be only for individuals identifying to a specific gender. No matter where we are on the gender identity spectrum, we all deserve and need to be supported when it comes to our mental and physical health.
We are a couple of days away from the start of November and I would encourage you to get involved with Movember if you can, whether it be with your family, friends, or colleagues. Most importantly, caring for our bros should extend far beyond the month of November, ensuring that we are always there to make time, speak with, and provide support no matter what physical or mental health illness one is facing.