Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australian men aged 15-44 years.
1 in 8 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
The rate of Australian men diagnosed with testicular cancer has grown by more than 50% over the past 30 years.
This is why I mo.
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. In particular, some funding is allocated to prostate and testicular cancer research along with mental health awareness campaigns. In 2013, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around Australia raised AUD $26.4 million.
I am overwhelmed each year by the donations and the jibes I get from my fellow staff and the students I teach. The question I am often asked is, "Why?" Simply, men need to chat. They need to have conversations about their health and well-being. It is about educating and empowering men when it comes to their health. The casual discussion about moustache growth can easily and effectively turn into a conversation about men's health.
Movember's post-campaign surveys show that each member of the Mo community is making a difference through the awareness they spread during their personal Movember journey.
Key global research findings:
- 99% of participants talked to someone about their health
- 75% became more aware of the health issues they face
- 62% had seen or were intending to see a medical professional to get their key personal numbers (blood pressure, cholesterol, waistline, weight)
- 50% told someone they should take action to improve their health
- 75% said they were more likely to tell someone they knew to seek professional health if they thought it needed
1.7 billion conversations were had
Each Movember I literally become a walking and talking billboard for men's health. It creates authentic conversations and the literature Movember sends to me in support, communicates the health messages in a way that is meaningful to men, their family and their peers.
On a personal level, it gets me to "take a good, hard look at myself" and I become more engaged with my own health. I think about the areas of my physical, social and emotional health that need preventative action. According to Movember research, Movember participants spend more time thinking about improving their health, visiting a doctor or discussing their health with others.
Evidence clearly highlights that
there's a long way to go until men achieve the optimum level of health. Progress is being made but the issue of tackling the inequality between men and women's health is a complex one and will take time. However, a unanimously agreed upon point is that better educating men on the risks they face and empowering them with the information and know-how to proactively look after their health, is a vital piece of the puzzle (http://au.movember.com/programs/mens-health).
I am not expecting to raise thousands of dollars. But I appreciate the chance to raise the issues, encourage the conversations and weather the storm of ridicule and giggles. I appreciate the chance to talk to the men I work with about their health. To get alongside a fellow staff member this year to wish him all the best in his prostate cancer operation, to pray with others for his health, and to see him return this year is testament to why this cause means so much to me.
To discuss with other men on staff about the joys and struggles of marriage and raising kids allows me to realise I am not alone. This great cause brings to the forefront of my mind, for one month every year, the fact I am not bulletproof.
Movember fights the good fight. It is changing the face of MY health. Why not encourage the men in your life to head to the doctor and let this year be the start of their annual check up?
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.
Russell Modlin's archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html