“To have an everlasting impact on the face of Men’s health,” is the vision behind the month of Movember, an advocacy event that demonstrates the importance of men’s health issues by encouraging men to raise money and grow moustaches throughout November. The movement began with just 30 participants in 2003 and has grown to over four million people worldwide. Since its inception the organization has raised over 500 million dollars. People participate from Australia, Canada, France, Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and more. Famous faces from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield to former Mouseketeer Matt Morris have participated in Movember in years past.

So what is this social movement that has literally changed the face of men’s health?

Movember is an annual event where men begin with a clean-shaven face and, over the course of the month, grow only a moustache (beards are strictly prohibited). The appearance of a moustache throughout the month of November can become a topic of conversation that can inform and influence people about men’s health issues. Participants let people know why they are growing their moustache and direct people to donate to their campaign page.

The mission of Movember is to raise awareness but have fun doing it. This isn’t to take men’s health concerns lightly at all but to encourage real conversations through a simple icebreaker. Some men Tweet their progress while others share photos on Facebook or Instagram. Others participate through programs at their office or in their communities.

Men’s health issues are still largely not discussed by many people in our communities. Simply knowing the risks may be enough for some men to take action to keep themselves from becoming victims of physical or mental health conditions. Men in our culture are not encouraged to discuss how they are feeling or to seek treatment if something doesn’t seem right. Men are told to “man-up” and take the pain. This often means completely ignoring pressing concerns that could be treated before it is too late.

The stats provided on the Movember website are noteworthy. Over 12% of men over the age of 18 are in fair or poor health. On average, women will outlive men by five years. An astounding one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer. Frequently, early detection is the only things standing in the way of a cure and full recovery especially for prostate and testicular cancer. Men are also more likely to participate in risky behavior that can impact their health and safety.

Education, healthy living, and proper medical checkups are essential for maintaining the right healthy balance. It is especially important to note that mental health issues can be particularly difficult for men due to the stigma that surrounds a diagnosis. Men want to be seen as strong and indestructible, but no one is immune to health concerns as we age.

Money raised through Movember is used to fund a number of men’s health programs. Some of the programs that have been funded by the project include:

  • Men’s health: Outreach and overall education of men’s health issues
  • Prostate cancer: Support for individuals with a diagnosis and their families and caretakers
  • Testicular cancer: Programs for men and boys with a diagnosis as well as their support system
  • Global collaborations: Initiatives all over the world encourage continued research on men’s health issues

Money is just one of the many tools that researchers and medical professionals need to be able to properly treat men for a variety of health issues that can affect them. It is extremely important that men, as well as the women in their families, are knowledgeable about the risks of certain conditions and behaviors. With an event like Movember, which is designed to get the conversation started, people can feel more comfortable talking about these issues. A simple moustache can break the ice and be the difference between a casual conversation and a real learning experience.

There are so many ways that individuals can participate in Movember besides growing a moustache and starting the conversation in their community. Women can also participate by joining a team and encouraging the men in their lives to discuss men’s health issues over the month of November. Businesses can also back Movember by encouraging their employees to grow a moustache. They can also participate in industry challenges, match funds that are raised, or join a corporate network. Communities and colleges can also participate with added activities designed just for them.

Encouraging healthy habits in men starting at an early age is essential for everyone.

Everyone can be affected by men’s health issues. While men can experience these issues directly, the women in their lives also need to be aware and supportive of diagnoses, education, and treatments. Participating in an event like Movember can raise awareness in your community and be a part of starting the larger conversation about this issue.

A holistic approach to health means being able to discuss important issues. Not only do we treat the conditions that bring people to our doors but we also want to focus on their entire well-being. Maintaining a healthy mind is as important as maintaining a healthy body. By encouraging and supporting outreach events such as Movember, we can spark the conversation that will allow more men to feel comfortable seeking the treatments that they need.

Shave the Date kick off parties are happening all over the country and the world. There are other Movember events that can be organized and several official galas will cap off the month. Talk to your buddies and your bosses to organize a Movember group to raise more money and awareness of the importance of men’s health.

So whether you go for a classic style or a moustache with a hipster flair start the month of Movember with a clean-shaven face and grow those whiskers to change the face of men’s health.

How will you participate in Movember?

Image by Eduardo Gavina via Flickr

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