As Movember approaches, a memory came to my mind, one of a friend frantically calling me one day and trying to cope with an incident she experienced earlier that morning: 

“I had just woken up to go for a run, taking a route across Lions Gate Bridge. Halfway through, I came across a man, seemingly in his early forties. He was leaning over the bridge, his hands gripping the green rails. My body pushed me forward, to keep running, but my stomach instantly turned when I locked eyes with him. You’re probably familiar with those scenes in films where time just comes to a halt, and the character is lost in motion when they run past someone in danger? That feeling  came over me, but I kept running even though my instincts told me to do otherwise; even as it completely slipped my mind that I was still even running; even though when I turned around to glance at him, he was still staring at me. As I kept my pace, a cyclist rode past me in the opposite direction towards the man. After a minute of internal debate I turned around, running as fast as I could behind the cyclist. I watched as the cyclist took out his phone and called emergency services. Within a couple of minutes, the police had arrived; blocking incoming traffic to make sure the man was safe. You never know what someone is feeling even on the most seemingly normal days, just like today. Cars drove past; cyclists rode on the bridge, and I kept running. But for people struggling with mental health, the days are anything but normal ”. 

Studies show that while women are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide, men are three times more likely to die from attempts, as men use more lethal means and are also are less likely to reach out for help. My friend’s experience was just an illustration of this. In Canada, ¾ suicides are by men, and whether diagnosed or not, over 90% of people who commit suicide are believed to  engage in substance use or suffer from mental illness, both serving as suicide risk factors as reported by the Canadian Mental Health Association. Other factors such as family history of mental illness or suicidal behavior, previous suicide attempts, social isolation, and times of great bereavement such as the death of a loved one point to the need for every individual to be cognizant and considerate of their mental health and that of those around them.

The Movember movement focuses on men’s health, whether it be physical or mental, through prevention, early intervention and health awareness. The moustache being a symbol of change in men’s  health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health, Movember is a global community. It’s origin story is a quirky one: two friends, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, started the conversation around bringing back moustaches as fashion trends, betting money on growing it back, and eventually brought the concept to life in the form of the Movember Foundation. The co-founders went on to  approach the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) to donate  funds from Movember related charitable endeavors. By the end of 2005, the cheque from the Movember Foundation was the largest single donation the PCFA had ever received.

Prostate cancer becomes more common with an increase in age, but it can impact younger men just the same. The second most common cancer in men worldwide, men who have a brother or father with prostate cancer are 2.5x more likely to get prostate cancer as well.  A rarer type of cancer, testicular cancer still accounts for about 1% of all male cancers. Both types can have a devastating impact and the importance of detection, treatment, and support is again stressed in the Movember campaign.

What started as a small movement in Melbourne, Australia, has grown to prominence in over 21 countries globally. It isn’t just about growing Mo’s, but seeing and promoting positive discourse in conversations around men’s health, whether they be about mental health or testicular & prostate cancer. 

What can you do to support this movement? 

According to the Movember Foundation, you can: 

→ Grow a mustache: Grow a Mo save a Bro! It takes commitment, but it also doesn’t. Stand in support with your fellow men. 

→ Move for Movember: Run or walk 60 km over the course of this month to show your support for the 60 men we lose every hour across the globe. 

→ Host A Mo-Ment: To keep it social-distance friendly, host a virtual event. Show off your Mo’s and do something fun! 

For more info, visit the Movember Foundation

Make it count for Movember.