What Growing a Mustache Has to do With Mental Health
By Alyssa Dorland
Every minute of the day, a man dies from suicide. The Movember Foundation is trying to do something about that.
The word Movember elicits images of peach fuzz, mustaches, and growing beards. But what is Movember and what is its purpose?
According to the Movember Foundation, the goal of the organization is to reduce premature male deaths by 25% over the next 10 years. 
The Movember Foundation aims to reduce the side effects of and mortality from testicular cancer, and find solutions for early diagnosis, better treatment, and preventative measures for prostate cancer. 
They also have a primary focus on reducing and preventing male suicide. The Movember Foundation cites that globally, a man dies from suicide every minute. They also note that 75% of suicides are of men. 
This is a huge number of deaths, and intervention is necessary. As a result, the Movember Foundation has developed a six-step plan to combat male suicide and encourage mental health for men around the globe.
The first step is to educate men about their mental health, help them make strong social connections, and take early steps to combat negative thoughts.  Without strong socialization, it can be easy to succumb to depressive attitudes and lose self-confidence.
The second step is to increase comfortability with talking about emotions. Movember says their goal is “working toward a world where men and boys are comfortable having conversations about the big things in life.”  In order for men to be vulnerable, they need an atmosphere where their vulnerability is valued and appreciated.
Next, Movember is working to redesign mental health services to better fit the needs of male clients. They are also using donations to fund innovations that will help spread knowledge and awareness of male mental health globally. 
The fifth element of Movember’s plan is to create community support for men that fits individuals rather than a stereotype. They emphasize that male mental health is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation. 
The final step is to globally advocate for men’s issues through lobbying and legal action. 
The Movember Foundation says the “[k]ey to the initiative is helping men and boys cope with trauma and stress by strengthening social connections,” and reducing stigmas that create barriers for male mental care. 
As men become more comfortable having meaningful conversations about life experiences, a lowered male suicide rate will become a reality, and so will the greater confidence men will find in themselves.
The suicide prevention page of Movember Foundation’s website shares individual stories from men struggling with mental health. The community that Movember provides can be a helpful first step to seeking healing.
So how do Movember’s core values and message tie into the month of November?
Every year, the foundation encourages men to grow out and appreciate their facial hair, as hair is one of the major losses during the process of chemotherapy for both prostate and testicular cancer.
Allen Kim, producer for culture and trends at CNN, writes that this movement “Noshavember” was started in 2009 by the children of Matthew Hill, a man who died from colon cancer in 2007. 
The goal of the month is to repurpose the money that would normally go toward shaving products and grooming and donate it to charities, like Movember, that raise awareness and prevention for male cancer and suicide. 
As you continue about your November, consider donating to Movember or another mental health charity. Ask your friends about their mental health and be intentional about maintaining friendships.
We can all play a role in building social connections with men in our lives and creating safe spaces to discuss emotions and struggles.
1. Movember. (2020). About us. Retrieved from https://us.movember.com/about/foundation.
2. Movember. (2020). About us: Prostate cancer. Retrieved from https://us.movember.com/about/prostate-cancer.
3. Movember. (2020). About Us: Mental health and suicide prevention. Retrieved from https://us.movember.com/about/mental-health.
10. Kim, A. (2020, November 1). What is Movember or NoShavember anyway? CNN. Retrieved from https://cnn.it/36b8koz.