November is the month to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide.
It is alarming how many men struggle with their mental health, but struggle in silence. In November, through movements such as Movember, the aim is to start conversations to encourage men to speak out, get support and realise that they are not alone in their battles. Men’s health is in crisis. Men are dying on average 4.5 years earlier than women, and for largely preventable reasons. A growing number of men – around 10.8million globally – are facing life with a prostate cancer diagnosis.
Globally, testicular cancer is the most common cancer among young men. And across the world, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 69% of all suicides. November is a time for men across the world to unite to tackle these debilitating issues and to come together to help more men live healthier, happier and longer lives.
Dr Jon Van Niekerk, Group Clinical Director at Cygnet Health Care, explains: “Movember and growing a moustache is a way of taking a small step to raise awareness. It gives us that incredible platform to highlight issues relevant for men and to encourage them to come forward and ask for help, something we know can be notoriously difficult for men to do.
“Beyond the camaraderie and the fun, it is about making sure there is a message behind every strand of hair. The message is very serious and one I feel passionate about supporting every year. While there’s heaps of fun in wearing a fancy moustache, it’s about starting those conversations about men’s cancers and mental health and suicide prevention – bringing that recognition to the forefront of everybody’s mind. “Growing a Mo” is a symbol for better men’s health. It grabs attention and starts important conversations”
Women can take part too by getting involved in “Make a Move” for Movember – walking, running, or participating in any physical activity over 60 kilometres during the month. This is 60km for the 60 men we lose to suicide each hour globally.
Movember’s mission is to reduce the rate of male suicide by 25% by 2030.
Dr Van Niekerk adds: “Each year I want to say I was a part of the movement in achieving this. We all face difficulties in life, it’s part of being human. Movember represents the ability to bring everyone together. It reinforces that no one is alone and that together we can do better.
“It may be hard to correlate growing a moustache with tackling such serious issues, but the key thing is that it kick-starts a conversation. Who knows where that conversation can lead – perhaps it will ultimately save a life. Men can be guilty of bottling things up and this can escalate and those around them do not always know they are going through a difficult period. Anything that opens the door just a little bit to encourage men to open up, to realise there are brothers in arms standing alongside them, is well worth our time.
“My advice to any of my male colleagues who may be going through a difficult time is to invest in your emotional capital. These can be simple steps like eating healthily, going to the gym, socialising with friends and avoiding social media. Small steps can have a big impact. Looking after yourself is a decision. All of us are worth that self-investment.
“To those who have men in your lives who may be struggling, my easiest suggestion is to ‘ask twice’. The question: ‘How are you?’ will often be met with the response: ‘Fine’. But asked a second time: ‘No, how are you really?’ may open up more of a dialogue. Encourage a conversation, actively listen and highlight the changes you have noticed. Do engage with your loved ones GP too if you have serious concerns about their health.”