“Movember” —an entire month when men worldwide put razors away to grow moustaches to raise awareness about testicular and prostate cancer and such men’s health issues as depression and suicide awareness —is upon us again. The UMHS Endeavour is proud to feature Movember for the fifth year in a row, showing how students at U.S. and Caribbean medical schools can get involved.
For Movember 2018, the UMHS Endeavour spoke to Robert Huffman, Director of University Outreach for Movember, in an exclusive interview about the Movember Foundation and its annual fundraising campaign. We also reached out to UMHS student and Media Ambassador Jared Sharza about how he and a group of students are helping bring awareness to the cause.
Host a Movember ‘Shave Down’
What are some of the most creative Movember events out there?
“A Movember Shave Down on November 1st is one of my favorite events because it creates a memorable experience for men and women and starts the conversation for men’s health,” Mr. Huffman said. “The event is simple: Men and women on campus gather in the local quad or courtyard and men bring their electric shaver or razor and shaving cream, depending on how ‘ballsy’ they are. Then, with a simple $10.00 donation, the women get a chance to choose a man’s face and shave it down to start the month off clean shaven and start the moustache journey. The goal is to encourage men and women to have a conversation about their family history as it relates to men’s health in a fun and grassroots format.”
A Brief History
The Movember Foundation started back in 2003 and has evolved a lot in the past 15 years.
“Since 2003, Movember has partnered with global corporations to increase men’s health awareness and fundraise for critical programs,” he said. “Yet, our core form of involvement remains peer-to-peer fundraising and working on a local level to change the face of men’s health in each community. Over the past 15 years, the Movember Foundation community has raised over $837 million dollars, which have funded over 1,200 men’s health projects in 20+ countries.”
Just a few years back, Movember was all about growing full beards. Even network TV anchors joined the Movember cause and showed off beards and moustaches all month long. Now, however, Movember is simply about moustaches, and for good reason.
“The moustache is our hairy ribbon,” Mr. Huffman said. “The journey of growing a moustache is not an easy one and neither is getting men to be more active in our physical and mental health. The moustache stands out in a crowd and calls attention to our three critical causes. The mission of growing a moustache is not meant to look sexy, but it’s meant to raise awareness for men’s health issues that aren’t being talked about enough.”
Not Just for Guys
How women can get involved is one of the most commonly asked questions regarding Movember because this phenomenon isn’t simply a guy thing.
“With the exception of growing a moustache, women can do everything men do throughout the month of Movember,” he said. “In addition to participating in the Shave Down on November 1st, women can raise money by signing up to participate in the ‘Move Challenge.’ This challenge is to run or walk 60 miles during the month of November, which represents the 60 men that take their lives every hour of every day. Women can also host fundraising events such volleyball tournament, bake sales, or 5Ks. Most importantly, women can talk to the men in their lives and encourage them to get more active in their physical and mental health.”
Men’s Health & Suicide Prevention
The Movember Foundation started funding men’s mental health and suicide prevention programs in 2006 when they worked with the Australian-based organization Beyond Blue.
“Statistics demonstrate that three out of four suicides around the world are men and over 510,000 men are taking their life every year,” Mr. Huffman said. “That’s one man taking his life every minute. This is a global silent epidemic and our goal is to educate men on how to talk about our mental wellbeing, as well as how to listen when another man opens up about his own story with mental health.”
Prostate cancer and testicular cancer are two of the main men’s health projects Movember helps fund.
“The goal of TrueNTH is to provide men with resources for every step along the prostate cancer journey starting from initial diagnosis to sexual recovery post-surgery,” Mr. Huffman said.
Testicular cancer is also important. “Testicular cancer is a highly treatable disease if caught early. Therefore, one of our most successful projects is the ‘Know Thy Nuts’ campaign. This is an awareness campaign educating men on how to self-check for testicular cancer and how to respond if something feels irregular.”
The Movember Foundation also funds various mental health and suicide prevention programs globally. One of the U.S.-focused programs is Making Connections.
“Through a partnership with the Prevention Institute and the University of South Florida, Movember is funding 14 sites around the country working with veterans, young men, and boys to educate and empower mental wellbeing within their community,” Mr. Huffman said.
Through these ongoing efforts, the foundation hopes, in just over a decade, to lower the mortality rate of men dying too young.
“Our mission at the Movember Foundation is to halve the number of men dying prematurely by the year 2030,” Mr. Huffman said. “This is not an easy task and will take a global effort to start a dialogue for men’s health issues in order to help our men live happier, healthier, and longer lives.”
UMHS Student Participation in Movember
Jared Sharza, UMHS student and Media Ambassador, told us he and a group of UMHS students are hoping to do something to raise awareness on campus this year, adding that they don’t have any formal events planned but would like to bring general awareness to men’s health “through growing a moustache with a couple of my good buddies.”
“You figure that as medical professionals, one of the skills we strive to develop is advocacy for our patients,” Mr. Sharza said. “Intuitively, becoming more educated with men’s health issues is a great first step towards developing a voice in terms of healthcare advocacy. Movember provides a meaningful and engaging outlet for me to consider my own wellness and create both short-term and long-term goals for living a healthy lifestyle. I feel that men’s health is a topic that is socially subdued and the goal of Movember is to bring the issues to light in our communities by wearing a moustache to demonstrate camaraderie and show support for men’s health and wellness.”
What are UMHS students planning? “There’s a handful of us students that are currently brainstorming for a fundraiser to do an auction where the highest bidder becomes eligible to actually shave off a participant’s mustache,” he said. “We’ll see where it takes us.”
For more information, please visit https://us.movember.com/
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