It’s time to get hairy (for a good cause.)
The 14th annual Movember campaign is back and challenging men across Canada to grow a moustache to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues like mental health, suicide prevention, and prostate and testicular cancer.
Money raised through the charity has funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world and challenged men to take action for their health.
A spring study done by Movember showed Canadian men were less likely to seek help as a means to help manage changes in their life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only 49 per cent of men surveyed said they had sought help, compared to 58 per cent of women. Men also reported feelings of loneliness had increased and felt their relationships had weakened since physical distancing restrictions were put in place.
Mike Milloy, a Movember Halifax Committee member, says the isolation brought on by the pandemic has only highlighted men’s health issues.
“When we talk about men’s mental health — mental health in general — obviously it’s been exasperated by some of the distancing that we’ve all been doing, trying to stay healthy.”
A recent survey by the Canadian Mental Health Association found a growing number of Canadians suffering from increased anxiety and mental health issues. Of those surveyed, only 35 per cent feel their mental health needs are being met by the public mental health system during the pandemic.
Regina-based trauma therapist Sidney McGillicky told Global News that while men’s mental health awareness is on the rise, there’s still a stigma around actively seeking support services.
“The COVID-19 crisis will put pressure on that stigma … and the uncertainty because this pandemic isn’t over,” McGillicky said.
McGillicky advises men to self-monitor their feelings as a coping technique and to maintain peer networks for support.
Of course, mandatory mask regulations due to COVID-19 will make celebrating your ‘stache a little harder this month, but Milloy says Movember committees have had to pivot and are now urging any Movember events be held virtually or within participants’ social bubbles.
There are four different ways to take part in Movember this year. Participants can go the traditional route and grow a moustache; they can join a month-long physical activity challenge; or they can host a “Mo-ment” — a virtual get-together for friends and family to do something fun to raise money.
Milloy says they’ve also introduced a new way to support the cause: Mo Your Own Way, which is a “choose your own adventure” type of challenge. “You make the rules, you set the limits; do what you can to inspire donations.”
You can also donate funds directly to someone who is participating in Movember through the Movember website.
And he adds Movember isn’t just for men. “Everybody can be involved in this. You don’t have to grow a moustache; you do not have to be a man.”