During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men's faces (supported by their Mo Sistas (female supporters)) in Australia and around the world. There is a serious side to the Mo growing.
The money raised goes to support and raise vital funds and awareness for men's health, specifically the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue: the national depression initiative. In 2011, over 854,000 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world got on board, raising AUD 124 million.
The beauty of this cause is the fun I have had over the years "fining" non-participants, sending copious amounts of emails, posting on social media (particularly of my Mo's progression over the four weeks) and rattling the donation box in front of work colleagues and my students.
The satisfaction I have from participating in this cause are from the conversations it generates amongst men. REAL conversations. Conversations about health, going to the doctor when you are sick or not feeling quite right, emotions and feelings and living beyond what the statistics tell us.
For far too long the image of the Aussie man has been dominated by the hard nosed, unemotional, too tough to cry mentality. But our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and friends have died from a disease, which if detected early enough, can be cured.
Together, Movember and the PCFA are dedicated to:
â€¢ Funding important, world-class Australian research into the cause, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of prostate cancer
â€¢ Providing information, support and advocacy to those affected by prostate cancer
â€¢ Raising community awareness about prostate cancer (http://au.movember.com/about/beneficiary1/)
As a direct result of Movember, I have had conversations with men who have prostate cancer who are just thankful a young bloke like myself is willing to raise awareness and encourage other men to do "what I should have done a long time ago and then I would have found this cancer earlier." These conversations have given me the opportunity to listen, ask questions, hear their story and pray for them.
Our fathers, grandfathers, uncles and friends are over represented in depression and suicide statistics because when life has got too tough, they may have felt there is no one to talk to or understands them. I have had male ex students of mine commit suicide. I have friends who have had much loved fathers, sons or brothers do the same.
Together, beyondblue and Movember are working to create awareness of depression and anxiety, and to break down stigma – which can sometimes prevent men from speaking up and getting the help they need. (au.movember.com/about/beneficiary2/)
â€¢ One in eight men will experience depression in their lifetime
â€¢ One in five men will experience an anxiety disorder
â€¢ Untreated depression is a major risk factor for suicide. Currently, males contribute to 80% of all suicide deaths in Australia. This is four out of every five males. (ABS, 2012)
Through the humble growing of a moustache, I believe I can change attitudes and habits relating to men's health.
If I can spark a conversation; if I can spread awareness of men's health issues; if I can help the men's health movement catch up to the wonderful work generated by many women's health movements and initiatives; then the lack of kissing from my wife, the itchiness on day 8-13, the sideway glances I get from people on the street and the teasing from work colleagues and students I teach will all be worth it in the end.
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children. â€¨â€¨
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html