1 November 2015 sees the beginning of this year’s ‘Movember’. Movember has become a global movement that challenges men to grow a moustache for the 30 days of November in order to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Many men opt to grow wacky moustaches, which attract attention and become talking points, allowing them to help raise awareness on a very personal level of the often ignored issue of men’s health.
Movember helps raise awareness of men’s health issues as well as helping to fund men’s health programmes. These health programmes are directed by the Movember Foundation and help combat prostate and testicular cancer, mental health challenges and physical activity by focusing on awareness and education.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health problems affect around one quarter of the population in any one year. Men face a unique set of challenges when it comes to managing their mental wellbeing, with the associated stigma (of shame and embarrassment) often preventing them from seeking help and taking action. Men are less likely to have been treated for a mental health problem than women (17% compared to 29%). This could be because, when asked, women are more likely to report symptoms of common mental health problems. In addition, suicide rates show that British men are three times as likely to die by suicide as British women[i].
The Movember website includes suggestions about how organisations can support Movember in the workplace. (Note: Some jobs (e.g. the fire service) restrict men from having facial hair because of the risk of it preventing breathing apparatus from fitting properly.) Encouraging people, especially men, to be open about their health issues early on, can considerably reduce the impact that health conditions have on people and their ability to work. Where health conditions are affecting somebody’s ability to work, or where work may be the cause of a person’s ill health, Fit for Work can offer free guidance through the website or using the Freephone advice line (0800 032 6235).
[i] All figures from the Mental Health Foundation.