By Nomali Cele
Movember was founded in Australia in 2003. Two buddies wanted to spend the month of November growing their moustaches and ended up recruiting a few of their friends, making the total 30 participants. Over the years the movement has spread across the globe but that cause has gone beyond just making a fashion statement. From those humble beginnings in 2003, Movember has grown into a way to fundraise for different men’s health causes –chief among them, prostate and testicular cancers.
Movember aims to not only raise fund for the different cause but to create awareness and spark dialogue. Which is why it matters that in 2018, Movember South Africa is highlighting mental health. We all know that mental illness can be a silent killer – especially in demographics where talking is not encouraged. Spearheaded by the Men’s Foundation here in South Africa, Movember 2018 is all about mental health and it makes sense. In 2017, The Men’s Foundation reported that 18 men commit suicide in South Africa daily.
Image courtesy of Movember
Speaking to The Southern African NGO Network, the founder and chief executive of the Men’s Foundation, Garron Gsell, shone a light on why it’s important that Movember South Africa focuses on mental health and suicide prevention. “There are so many unanswered questions facing those left behind with the pain of not having noticed the change in behaviour until it was too late. We are making a stand for men to understand that when they are struggling there is support available.”
The goal for Movember South Africa is to get men talking about their mental health, diagnose and treat any mental illness that maybe unnamed and just create an environment for open dialogue about mental health. Also in 2017, it was reported that more men than ever are calling into suicide helplines. This is positive. It doesn’t necessarily prove that men are more depressed than they were, say 10 years ago. But it does prove that more men are reaching out and seeking help.
It matters that Movember South Africa is working to change the conversation between men around mental health. Changing what we say as a society about mental illness and working to destigmatise it, is one step closer to facing the problem head-on. If you can’t grow a “Mo” and are wondering how you can assist this campaign, Movember South Africa has a few ways: Talk, ask, listen, encourage action and check in. To learn more about the Movember campaign, visit the website here.