WHEN people think of Movember, often the first thing that comes to mind is the moustache.
Many people are familiar with our annual moustache growing campaign, but what some people might not know is that we’re the world’s largest men’s health charity. What that means is that we want men to live happier, healthier and longer lives, and the way that we do this is by activating in three of the most critical points on men’s health today; prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention.
Around the world men die on average six years earlier than women. What’s interesting and important about this is that there is no biological reason for it, in fact the main reason that men to die younger is our behaviour. Men are less likely to visit a doctor and more likely to ignore symptoms of potentially larger issues, often preferring to bury their head in the sand and say “it will be grand”. This holds true when we look at mental health, where there is a stigmatic barrier to help-seeking for men who generally are unwilling to have a conversation with a friend or family member for fear of being judged or appearing vulnerable or weak.
At a cultural level this is something that at Movember we want to change. We like to say that the guys who grow Mo’s in Movember become walking talking billboards for men’s health, in addition to raising funds they help us to start the conversation around men’s health encouraging guys to engage in their health, talk more openly with one another and to take action when something isn’t right.
In Ireland prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in men with one in seven of us being directly effected in our lifetime. This means that there are over 3400 new cases every year and today there are more than 30,500 men living with and beyond prostate cancer, and many are dealing with some serious side effects from treatment.
When it comes to prostate cancer what’s important to remember is that when caught early there is a 98% chance of survival, however when detected late, this drops to just 26%. When we consider this in light of the lack of action that men take when it comes to their health it’s easy to see how important it is for us to raise awareness of this disease. So that the men at risk of prostate cancer catch it early and the best chance of survival.
Despite being the second most common cancer in young men, testicular cancer is often a forgotten cancer. At greater than 95% the odds of survival for men with testicular cancer are better than good — but for some men, long-term treatment related side effect mean quality of life is severely compromised. We focus on getting these predominantly young men back to living full and healthy lives. The best thing you can do for your testicles is give them a bit of a feel each month or so and if something doesn’t seem right head to your doctor.
Globally we lose a man to suicide every minute, that’s over 500,000 men every year, and in Ireland 8 in 10 suicides are men. The reality is that men at risk of suicide are not seeking help. There are lots of incredible organisations running phone lines and other emergency services that do a lot of important work downstream at crisis point. But sadly men are not availing of these services. And so tackling this issue is complicated and requires a different approach.
We want to open the conversation around men’s health, and encourage Irish men to take ownership of their health. When we look at these stats, it becomes clear that there is a men’s health crisis. Men are dying too young, largely because we don’t talk enough when we’re not doing so good and we don’t take action when there is a problem. Too many of us suffer in silence and seek help too late. There is a lot that needs to be done, but by talking about it, by encouraging our friends to take action for their health and supporting them, we can help keep the men we love around to live happier, healthier, longer lives.
Thanks to the amazing efforts of our supporters, we can invest in initiatives to change this. Whether it’s by growing a Mo, taking on a MOVE challenge or hosting an event however you Mo will save a bro and will help us to change the face of men’s health.