The calendar may say it’s the month of November, but for some, it’s Movember.
Movember is a yearly movement where men are encouraged to grow facial hair during the month of November. The goal is to increase awareness of men’s health and wellness.
According to their official website, the origin of Movember dates back to 2003 in Australia when two friends decided to challenge their friends to grow mustaches as a way to “bring back a lost fashion trend.” But what started as a fun challenge turned into something more when the creators realized that the conversations prompted by mustaches could be used to spread important messages.
The following year, the creators officially turned Movember into an organization and in the first year raised money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. In 2007, the movement expanded into the United States for the first time, and is now active in more than a dozen countries around the world with 5 million participants. The proceeds from the organization has funded hundreds of projects for men’s health.
Part of the movement focuses on increasing awareness of men’s mental health. A 2018 Healthline article emphasizes the constant pressure that men can sometimes face when it comes to mental wellness. Society usually tells men to “man up” and “be strong,” when, in fact, not expressing your true feelings can have negative consequences. This is reflected in studies from the National Institute of Mental Health, which indicate that men are much less likely to get mental health treatment compared to women. A fact that is further supported by a statistic from a 2017 Psychology Today article that says men make up 75 percent of suicide victims in the United States.
One of the roots of mental health disparities for men is the idea that mental health challenges appear the same in everyone, when in fact they don’t. The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Health Encyclopedia speaks to this, stating “Men who are depressed, for example, may seem angry and grouchy rather than sad and withdrawn.” The same article encourages men to not be afraid of seeking professional help and finding outlets to help relieve stress and other negative feelings.
Movember also urges men to focus on physical health, which is equally important. A CBS New York article explains that men die five years earlier than women do, usually due to preventable causes. Movember’s campaigns focus particularly on screening for prostate cancer and testicular cancer, but also encourage increased physical activity.
There are many different ways to participate in Movember besides growing facial hair. The official website provides resources to start campaigns in your workplace or friend group, fitness challenges, and fundraising tips. By working together, the movement can continue to increase awareness of the importance of men’s mental and physical health.