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Meet The Men Behind Movember

Alice Weetman explores the iconic campaign and speaks to some of the men growing the ‘mo’ in York in aid of charity

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Image Credit: RpL2144

The Movember movement started in 2003 when two friends, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, sat down for a quiet beer in the Australian town of Fitzroy and joked about bringing the tash back. After talking to other friends about their plan, and inspired by another friend’s mother raising money for breast cancer, they pulled together to create the Movember Campaign, which has now raised more than £440 million for research into men’s health and wellbeing, and funded 1,250 men’s health projects since 2003. Movember’s mission is not an easy one. They aim to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25 per cent by the year 2030, and although originally concentrated on prostate cancer, their focus has widened to testicular cancer, mental health and male suicide prevention.

Despite starting so far away, Movember has now spread to the University of York and in particular our sports teams. The Movember movement in York doesn’t just include the mos being grown but has brought with it events such as Movember Karaoke, that shook the Glasshouse on the 15th, and the Breakz & Chameleon DJ set that will be taking place in The Lounge on 22 November. The University’s collective Movember Target of £15,000 is well on its way to already being beaten, with just over £13,900 raised with still two weeks of the month left. 20 sports teams and societies, including York Mountaineering Club, UYRUFC, UYVC and numerous college football teams are all taking part. A total of 265 men on campus, all growing moustaches in the name of men’s wellbeing.

Cancer was the original focus point of Movember. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men aged 15-29, with one in 20 diagnosed with the disease losing their lives. In the UK, one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it the second most common cancer in men, with 1.4 million diagnosed globally every year. With the money raised through Movember, the aim is to push medical research to slow and stop tumour progression, improve clinic quality, and strive to educate men on warning signs and symptoms for both illnesses. By equipping men with the knowledge and confidence to make the right choices for their health, prevention is made easier and a higher quality of life can be achieved.

In more recent years, mental health issues have become a huge talking point in the media and society as a whole, due to their ever increasing impact, and the lack of resources that are being provided to cope with this mental health crisis. Movember wants to get men talking to each other about their mental health, throwing away the stigmas attached to issues such as depression and anxiety. Globally, three out of four suicides are male. 75 per cent of suicides in the UK are male. Every minute, a man takes his own life. This isn’t right. This alone is clear evidence that not enough is being done to open up conversations around male mental health, and that there is something missing in the way of readily available support systems and prevention plans.  And this is where the Movember movement steps in. According to their 2018 Annual Report, Movember aims to put a stop to men dying early by “giving men the facts about their health, and using the power of mass-media to drive behaviour change for men.” With greater awareness, and a reduction in the stigma associated with men’s health, this may be possible. The money raised by the campaign is also poured into biomedical research, “creating new, better and accessible health services or men, by bringing together the brightest minds from around the world to collaborate on research and innovative men’s health projects, while sharing their findings and accelerating results.”

The biggest part of Movember is, however, creating conversations around these topics, and bringing awareness to the forefront: “listening to and learning from our community, and using what we know to advocate for all men.” With that being said we thought the best way to cover Movember was to talk to the men behind the moustaches. I spoke to some of the men behind the moustaches on campus. Although their moustaches might not be that impressive yet (pictures taken 14 November) what they’re doing for men’s health and the conversation around it certainly is.

If you'd like to donate to the University's Movember page you can do so at the following link :https://uk.movember.com/mospace/network/YorkMovember
The Interviews:

Mehti Kendrick:
How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health?
The Movember cause means a lot to me, men are three times more likely to die through suicide than women and the rate of deaths among under 25s has increased by 23.7% in the past year. This puts uni men (including myself) into a very dangerous bracket of increased suicide likelihood. That is why I feel as though it is a very important cause to get involved with as I can help shed light to those around me that they are not alone and myself, and everyone else involved in the cause, are accessible to talk to and available for support.
What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future?
I hope that the Movember foundation will have lasting impacts throughout the year and help break down the stigma surrounding men’s health. Of course, I think that there could always be a lot more campaigns on a lot more topics however I feel that Movember, as a one off entire month, has maintained its size and attention through being the only one of its kind. That being said, I would love to see more single events put on, either during the month or any of time of the year, similar to the Race for Life.
Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics?
I think that often among uni sports ‘lads’, people are often in a position where they want to show their peers that they are ‘invincible’. Unfortunately that means not many boys are willing to open up with others as they assume nobody else is suffering alongside them. I feel that this bravado, often put on, can make topics such as the trials and tribulations of being a young man very taboo.
***Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health? ***
One hundred percent. I feel that campaigns such as these are making a huge difference to not only how we look at the topics of male mental health, but also how we view our friend’s feelings, and through this mutual recognition of people’s understanding, do topics really become comfortable and normal to talk about.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
I think the most important thing, once November is up, is to keep communication about serious topics going with your friends. It’s very easy to check on someone once in November and then assume that they’re fine or that now they know they can talk to you they will, when the reality of it is that communication needs to remain a steady flow on such topics. I think the media is great during Movember, and I do also think that there is still a lot of articles being made about men’s health throughout the rest of the year, however with a topic like men’s wellbeing, I think there could always be more done by the media.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Yea, shoot for the moon, kings! No tash is too fancy!

Shiv Patel:
***How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? ***
Before coming to University, I don't think men’s mental health was ever brought up in my schools or my sports clubs. There has obviously been a stigma regarding Men’s mental health in the past, but I'm glad to see it being put in the spotlight. No one, man or woman should feel anything but support when talking about their mental health.
What does the ‘Movember’ cause mean to you?
Movember's cause affects all of us at the University of York Cricket Club on a personal level. I've lost friends to suicide, where no one had realised what personal issues they had been dealing with. It's easy to think someone is happy and coping well, but no one ever knows for certain what someone else is feeling. The campaign is something we're very proud to be apart of, raising money for Movember is an amazing feat in itself, however, I think the general awareness of Men's mental health that Movember generates is of greater importance. It shows men that no one should feel ashamed to talk about their feelings, and more importantly, that this should be encouraged.
***What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future? ***
Movember is a fantastic campaign for raising awareness for Men’s mental health, during the winter months. I think the fact that it’s obviously held near Christmas really does help, as obviously the winter holidays are synonymous with being close to our family and friends. However, saying that, this could highlight a chance for more campaigning to be done across the summer months as well. Ideally, we would like to see almost no campaigning one day, as this would have meant that all men do feel comfortable enough to talk about their mental health. However, the money raised and symbolism the month has is imperative, especially to the support it raises for Health issues i.e. Prostate Cancer.
***Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics? ***
I think that it’s mostly due to prior stereotyping. Obviously nowadays, it’s completely outdated here in England, but other countries around the world and different cultures have different values and traditions.
Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health?
They’re essential in being the catalyst for change for male mental health. It is incredible to see so many of our bigger sports clubs having all their members grow a moustache together, and I think it brings a sense of pride to the University and Well-Being as a whole. I know this is the case with businesses and other University clubs being a part of this. It’s a unique way of supporting each other that you can’t replicate.
Is there anything that you feel personally could be brought to light more by the media around men’s wellbeing?
I think the media, particularly social media plays such an important part in everyone’s lives these days. I think regular advertisement from sites such as Snapchat or Youtube, which already monetise their advertisement could be a great start. Social Media is also to an extent the cause for some mental health issues for some people, and so it would be great to see some advertisement for some hotlines and websites someone can use, when they feel they have no one to talk to. Major Sports Teams on Instagram already do a fantastic job highlighting mental health as well, and as their followings are so huge, It could also play a part in highlighting Men’s mental health, but there has definitely been significant improvements made, so I think there’s definitely a positive attitude regarding men’s well-being.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Beard oil would always be a good start, but more importantly making sure there’s no stubble around. This is the longest I’ve had facial hair for, but I’m keen for as many handlebars as possible.

Ollie Martin:
***How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? ***
In 5 years of involvement I’ve learnt so much about Men’s health. I’ve seen a real shift in attitudes, especially in and around the University, towards a really positive view on men’s health. The Movember Foundation does an amazing job of not just fundraising but raising awareness.
What does the ‘Movember’ cause mean to you?
The cause means a huge amount to me, I’ve seen friends suffer first hand with their mental health and families shaken by cancer. Everyone has important men in their lives who they want to protect, it’s not just a cause for men, it’s a cause for brothers, fathers, friends and more - it really affects everyone.
***What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future? ***
The goal of Movember is simple, to stop men dying too young. Men in the UK on average die 6 years earlier than women and this is entirely preventable, through causes like reducing the number of men taking their own lives and early detection and treatment of cancers prevalent in men like prostate and testicular cancer we can genuinely stop men dying early.
Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics?
They shouldn’t been seen as taboo but sadly the traditional attitude to men’s health has been the same for generations, men don't talk about their health issues, especially their mental health. By trying to appear strong when we’re not, pushing traditional gender attitudes or just brushing things off as ‘man flu’ we’re slowly killing ourselves. This has to change!
Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health?
I genuinely think it has made a difference, even the shift in attitudes at the University of York has been noticeable. 4 years ago Men’s health wasn’t really on anyone's radar but in 2017 we raised £7000, in 2018 we raised £14000 and in 2019 we’ve already raised £13500 two weeks into the campaign. It’s clear that more and more people are taking notice and rallying behind the cause.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
I think the best way is to follow the advice, talk about your problems, open up when you need help and ask others when they need yours. Testicular cancer awareness month is also in April, it's another great opportunity to remind people to know their nuts.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Don’t trim it, grow what you can and remember someone is always going to have a worse tash than you. The tash is a walking billboard for men’s health!

Tom Davis:
***How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? ***
I never understood the problems associated with men’s mental and physical health a year ago. The alarming rate of suicides really changed my view, as well as myself experiencing mental problems across recent months. Not only did it affect me, it affected other close family members as well. The anxiety and depression my other family members felt shocked me. The feelings I experienced both external and internal made me more aware and realised how serious his stigma is.
Why is this campaign such an important cause to get involved with?
The Movember cause is a major deal for me as not only as it affects myself, it has impacted other members of my family. The feeling I experienced is one which I never wish upon anyone; the feeling of not being able to tell anyone about your feelings because you may be judged as ‘silly’ and ‘ridiculous’. This campaign is an incredible cause to get involved as one of the biggest mortality rates in men is suicide. Men are also 3 times more likely to commit suicide than Women. Therefore, this cause is incredibly important in providing support for many men struggling with mental and physical problems.
***What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future? ***
I think the work that Movember are currently doing is outstanding and it continues to grow. The following it has gathered and the changing view of that ‘men need to man up’ is gradually declining. More campaigns need to get involved and increase awareness of this issue. The trend of men opening up is increasing and I believe many more organisations need to tackle the social norm of men being masculine and needing to ‘man up’.
Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics?
The idea of ‘men not speaking out’ and ‘keeping it in’ can be seen as a ‘taboo’ topic because societal norms of men are making them feel the need to be masculine and tough out very situation. Experiencing this stigma or being surrounded by ‘lad’ culture can make it hard for people to open up as they may be deemed as a disgrace is not true and a norm which needs to be tarnished off. There is no shame in feeling vulnerable, lost or sad; most men have experienced some level of anxiety or depression in their lifetime.
Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health?
I strongly believe that campaigns make a huge difference in the way we view men’s mental health. The rising statistic of it being the largest killer in men has shown that many men still hide in silence and campaigns are providing greater support; preventing the rate of suicides. Surrounding yourself with the right people will only make the process a lot easier, and if you don’t have that, these campaigns will provide the support and help required and needed.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
I feel monthly events across the UK, in different regions can aid awareness in men’s mental health and also donating more money to foundations, such as Movember, will only increase awareness. Even if your friends are experiencing problems, always give them a ring or drop them a message or invite them out when playing sports, going to meet other friends etc. Outside Movember, I strongly encourage people to donate to other organisations as it they will supply more consultants and support for people experiencing mental and physical problems.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Unfortunately, as you can see I’m not blessed with dark facial hair like some of the other boys. I reckon my top tip would have to be to be patient. It might take a while but it’s worth it, you’re a walking ad for Movember and you start conversations that otherwise never would’ve taken place. Just persevere!



Kieran McGowan: **
***How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? ***
Before I heard of Movember and started to get involved with it I never knew that the issues they’re tackling were such big problems. I obviously had no idea about the statistics or anything like that. I’d never really thought about what it meant to be a man as well, about what masculinity actually is and who gets to define it.
What does the ‘Movember’ cause mean to you? Why is this campaign such an important cause to get involved with?
To me the cause is all about equality. It’s all about making sure that men don’t die from preventable causes. On average men can expect to live 6 years less than women simply because they’re male. There’s no medical reason for this at all. I don’t think that’s fair and I don’t think it can be allowed to continue. Movember is the major men’s health charity, so I think it’s massively important to get behind them and help them tackle the disparity in men’s and women’s health. They’re really good with where the money goes as well, community engagement programs, funding research into prostate cancer and testicular cancer, getting to the root cause of why men feel they can’t talk about stuff.
***What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future? ***
Hopefully the stigma will be overturned. That’s the goal of Movember; to destroy this inequality between men’s and women’s life expectancies and overturn the idea of what it is to be a man. But I think until that happens then there’s still more work to be done and so the more charities that exist to share the load the better. However, I think that there needs to be lots of collaboration between charities targeting men’s health to ensure that the same message is being spread to everyone
***Why do y
****ou think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics? ***
I think it’s because of the traditional portrayal of men. Everyone thinks of their stereotypical manly man as a big muscular bearded guy who’s quite stoic and can do anything. That’s just not accurate but that stereotype has been in place for so long and no-one’s challenged it that it’s now just become the norm. I think at the end of the day nobody talks about men’s health. How many news stories have you seen publicising the fact that 75% of suicides are men? How many have you seen saying that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50? I think this lack of portrayal in the media has permeated into our society, which in turn has shown the media that we don’t want or need to hear this stuff.
Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health?
I think they’ve made a massive difference. People actually think about it now, people actually talk about it. Without charities like Movember I don’t think we’d be where we are now in terms of the public perception of men’s health. I think people are starting to realise there’s a problem that needs to be solved, and that’s all down to charities like Movember.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
I think everyone individually has to take the lessons taught by charities like Movember, like “Be a man of more words” and “Know Thy Nuts”outside of the month and put them into practice in their everyday life. I think if one person takes this way of thinking beyond the month then they’re going to influence all their friends, who will then influence theirs etc. It’s a ripple effect. I think maybe more publicity surrounding the issues would also help people to realise how big of an issue it is as well.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Make sure you try and keep clean shaven around your mo so it stands out. Be bold! Go for a wacky design, don’t trim it. I think compared to what some people go through, and have been through, looking a bit stupid for a month is nothing. You’ll become a walking billboard for Movember, you’ll start the conversations Movember is trying to start, and that’s what it’s all about.

Andrew Houldcroft:
***How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? ***
Growing up I was always aware of men’s mental and physical problems, but I don’t believe I ever truly understood the magnitude of these issues. Since a young age I have struggled with anxiety and as a man I never really felt like I had a voice to express what I was going through, in recent years there has been a distinct shift in both public opinion and awareness and its because of this shift that I feel I have been able to express these struggles and recover from them. The success of Movember as a foundation is a massive reason for this shift, and it has inspired me to play my part this year.
What does the ‘Movember’ cause mean to you? Why is this campaign such an important cause to get involved with?
Movember has played a big part in both my mental and physical wellbeing. Breaking down the stigma surrounding men’s health is paramount, and Movember is at the forefront of this campaign. Whether you’re a man or not, this cause is incredibly important and affects all of us, too many fathers, sons, brothers and friends have suffered or died when they didn’t have to. It’s time for all of us to do our part in changing that.
***What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future? ***
In the future I simply want to see the amazing work of Movember continue, progressing closer and closer to a day where the stigma surrounding men’s mental and physical well being is a thing of the past.
***Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics? ***
I believe that the taboo surrounding men’s health stems from a systematic misrepresentation of what it means to be a ‘man’. In the past, young men have been imprinted into a lifestyle where any outward expression of sadness or hardship has been treated as weakness, setting a dangerous precedent in which men are forced to suffer in silence in order to be perceived as men at all.
Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health?
Movember has had a profound impact on the way that both society, and more specifically, men look at men’s health problems. Through changing the perspective of the wider society, Movember has created almost a gap in the stereotype forced upon men, allowing room for important conversations to be had and change to occur.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
I believe it is down to each and every one of us to ensure that the issues addressed during November are not forgotten once it has ended. Through raising awareness, having conversations and being vigilant with how we address each issue as individuals, we can ensure that the Movember campaign maintains longevity all year round. I also believe that the media has a massive responsibility to inform viewers about these issues, as currently there is a serious information deficit regarding men’s issues.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
My top Movember tip would be to shave completely around your moustache every day, if you’re not the best at growing facial hair (like me), then this tip will make the most of what you have by letting it stand out.

Tom Buckle:
***How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? ***
Before campaigns such as Movember I guess I never really had much of an opinion of issues with men’s mental health especially. Causes like this have really opened up my eyes to the severity of issues surrounding men’s health that may have previously been glossed over.
What does the ‘Movember’ cause mean to you? Why is this campaign such an important cause to get involved with?
Being a part of a society such as Uni rugby, Movember can evidently be seen to be breaking down barriers and changing perceptions around men’s health. Causes such as Movember provoke men to talk about subjects they mightn’t of usually talked about in the past days of just ‘man up’.
What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future?
I feel like these campaigns are having success in facilitating the first step of getting people to talk but as long as men are suffering there is always more that can be done. I’m not sure how the figures have changed since these campaigns and charities have come about but hopefully over time the pretty dramatic men’s suicide figures currently, will decrease as more men seek help.
***Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics? ***
I guess it goes back to that typical macho man image of what men should be. Previously a lot of the issues that men face, I feel, would’ve been brushed under the carpet. I think a lot of these barriers are getting gradually broken down but there is a lot of work that can still be done to break the stigma that a personal struggle isn’t a weakness and seeking help isn’t giving in to the struggle.
***Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health? ***
I feel like, as a society, we are seeing a shift in perceptions of men. In our rugby club we are definitely seeing a shift away from that rugby lad image, who never have problems, heading more towards a group that supports each other off the field, as much as they do on it.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
In the club now, we have Welfare Officers who are specifically in place to talk to people and be a port of call for someone who is seeking help, year-round. But ultimately for us, as individuals to talk about men’s health year and to continue to break down barriers, and not just for the one month of the year.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Shaving is an extreme sport. Do not take it lightly, there will be some claret.

Ollie Clarke:
**How have campaigns such as Movember change your views around men’s health? **
Before I started getting involved it wasn’t something I knew much about honestly. I wasn’t aware of the range of mental health issues men suffer from because people simply didn’t talk about them.
What does the ‘Movember’ cause mean to you? Why is this campaign such an important cause to get involved with?
It’s such an important campaign. Having my own problems with mental health, and seeing close mates suffer with their own issues, it’s been a great way to find a positive in a generally awful situation. The message it spreads couldn’t be more needed, because I’ll admit that telling people about my situation made it easier, and seem like less of a burden. I also it’s still something I struggle to do and avoid if I can. Simply because I find it uncomfortable to do so.
What do you hope will come from ‘Movember’ in the future?
I hope that eventually men will feel less pressure when opening up to their mates. More campaigns would be great to see, but I definitely feel like the interest in the topic peaks during November and dies off for the rest of the year.
***Why do you think men health, both mental and physical, are seen as slightly ‘taboo’ topics? ***
There’s a stereotype around men to just get on with it when life gets tough . It makes you less able to be emotional and admit how you’re feeling. But like racism or homophobia it’s not something we’re born to think, instead our environment as we grow up teaches it to us. It’s why Movember is so important, it gets everyone to think differently.
Do you think campaigns like Movember have made a difference in how we look at topics such as male mental health?
A massive difference. So many people get involved for their own personal reasons and really make an effort to raise money and awareness and through this we get a lot of positive changes.
How do you think we can continue the conversations around men’s wellbeing after November?
The students union could regularly include reminders to talk your mates who you think might be having problems and reminders on how to check for testicular cancer within any newsletters or updates, which are emailed out.
Any top tips on maintaining the tash this month?
Looking at the state of mine, I’m not the best to be giving advice on that.

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