18 years later, Movember’s core message is still necessary

Moustaches grown symbolize important conversations about men’s physical and mental health

The movement has progressed to address physical and mental health issues.

On the first of November, social media feeds annually flood with posts and messages related to the start of Movember.

We hear the movement discussed amongst peers and take note of the increase in mustached individuals around us—however, many aren’t aware of the origins or relevance of the cause and how it has transformed over time.

The Movember movement began in 2003, founded by two close friends in Australia who playfully sought to revive the moustache trend as a challenge. 

Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery decided to use the moustache-growing challenge to fundraise and generate awareness surrounding men’s health issues, specifically prostate cancer. They donated the money raised to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and eventually formed an official partnership.

By 2006, The Movember Foundation was established, and an official tagline for the movement was developed: “Changing the face of men’s health.”

The scope of issues Movember addresses has broadened over time. Men’s mental health and the stigma surrounding it became points of focus for the campaign, specifically the National Depression and Anxiety Initiative, which eventually also became an official partner of Movember.

Within the next year, the movement achieved international recognition and presence. 

Currently, campaigns exist in 21 countries to fund over 1,000 men’s health programs. Each year, millions of moustaches are grown to support the scientific research, general awareness, and destigmatization of these key issues.

The movement has progressed since its inception to address a variety of relevant physical and mental health issues. Despite this change, Movember remains rooted in the original goals: to raise awareness and funding, to reduce stigma and support research, and—importantly—to create a fundamental and lasting change in the way men’s health issues are addressed and discussed in society.

In Canada, the suicide rate for men is three times higher than the rate for women—17.9 versus 5.3 per 100,000—and it’s estimated by the Canadian Cancer Society that approximately 1 in 8 Canadian men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime and 1 in 29 will die from it.

It’s vital these mental and physical health issues are talked about so that those affected feel comfortable accessing the resources they need.

The moustaches grown throughout the month serve as symbols to spark these important conservations. The core message of Movember serves to normalize talking about men’s health going forward.

18 years later, Movember remains relevant as a way for everyone, regardless of their age or location, to connect with, understand, and recognize the severity of men’s health concerns.

The campaign encourages us to engage with key issues and reminds us to act as listeners for those around us, treat one another with compassion, encourage those struggling to seek help, and understand mental health to be equal as important as physical health.

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