How the Movember Foundation became most effective promoter of men’s mental health

Why Movember succeeds where other initiatives fail

Men are much less likely than women to seek help for mental or physical conditions.

On Oct. 10, the Movember Foundation released a campaign called “Man of More Words” along with a short video stressing the importance of vocal mental health support. The video was short, humorous, and relatable to many—above all, though, it served as a reminder that the Movember Foundation’s approach to promoting men’s mental and physical health remains most effective.

Canadian men have a shorter life expectancy than women, with males living on average 79 years and females 83 years. There are multiple reasons for the discrepancy, but part of it’s due to the fact that men commit suicide at three times the rate women do.

Men are much less likely than women to seek help for mental or physical conditions, and are much more likely to become addicted to drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication.

These statistics show the mental and physical health of Canadian men, young and old, is in serious crisis—and it seems to be attracting less attention than one would hope.

It can be easy to identify problems, but it’s harder to solve them. The men's health crisis is no different. Male mental health has been impeded by a lack of effective solutions.

“The women’s health movement was very self-directed,” said Dr. Don McCreary, director of Toronto Men’s Health Network. “Women banded together to work on problems with health delivery. Men don’t want to do that.” 

Professionals usually suggest the lack of engagement in men’s mental health is a credit to traditional emphasis on masculinity. But the biggest barrier to working on these issues relates to a disagreement regarding the philosophy behind approaching mental illness in men.

That’s why it’s surprising to see the widespread reach and acceptance the Movember Foundation has managed to gather. The message sent by the foundation is one of support, with tips for practical, constructive progress that encourages masculine traits like courage and toughness.

But they do so by furthering both the physical and mental health of men. Promoting mental health by focusing on strength through health is highly effective and an easily supportable idea.

The Movember Foundation also puts emphasis on the ideas of brotherhood and teamwork, making it no surprise that sports teams, along with individuals, contribute and participate in the event during the month of November.

The foundation’s method of raising awareness—growing moustaches—is a highly individualized, recognizable symbol of male health. Strategies like these make the promotion of men's mental health not just an idea, but a practical action to effect change.

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