Every year during the month of November, it seems like all we see are men sprouting new growth on their faces. Mustaches are as far as the eyes can see. From the fresh-faced teenage boy to the wise face of wisdom, men everywhere are growing out their Movember mustache. What does it really mean?
Movember is the annual awareness month for men’s health issues: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide. The idea for Movember was created in 2003 in Australia, and it is now the leading charity changing the face of men’s health. The growth of mustaches sparked conversation around men’s health issues, mainly prostate cancer. It was the first large-scale movement to bring attention to prostate cancer. In 2004, Movember started to raise funds for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. In 2006, Movember partnered with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand. It wasn’t until 2007 that awareness month started to gain traction in the United States. Movember officially launched in the US with a partnership with the Prostate Cancer Foundation, in Canada with Prostate Cancer Canada, in the UK with The Prostate Cancer Charity, and in Spain with FEFOC. Also, the Movember Board was formally established. In 2008, the annual campaign started a greater expansion to other nations.
As of 2020, there were over 6 million supporters worldwide. It now brings awareness to many different health issues and challenges that men face. Movember is truly about something greater than oneself. It connects people globally and brings to light some severe issues. From its humble beginning, it has grown into a major movement.
In terms of statistics, one in eight American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Testicular cancer strikes young. It’s the most common cancer in young American men. On a global average, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day. These are statistics that were not often talked about in the past. Movember moves to change that. There needs to be more awareness about these issues and more focus and funding on how to help make a difference.
Thanks to Movember, there is now extensive research, funded mainly through donations, that is helping to identify different causes and factors of men’s health issues. There has now been improved research, greater knowledge of how the prostate works, and a better understanding of how prostate cancer works and progresses. They now have Movember-funded scientific research to identify why the most common type of testicular cancer runs in families. This is a significant leap forward in understanding testicular cancer.
Not only is their focus on male-specific cancers, but Movember now also raises awareness and funding for research on other men’s health problems. They also raise awareness of men’s mental and behavioral health concerns and focus on male suicide. They fund several projects that support the mental health and well-being of men and boys.
Movember is now the official delivery partner for the Rugby League World Cup and is the first international sporting event to have a mental health charter. Movember also currently partners with national Breast Cancer Foundations across the globe.
There are other ways to be a part of the movement besides growing a mustache. One of their campaigns is to get out and run or walk 60 miles over the month of November. That is 60 miles for the 60 men we lose to suicide each hour, every hour across the world. This is a part of the idea of motivating men to take action for their own health. Running, walking, growing, and fundraising are all beneficial for Movember.
Movember is more than just a bunch of men growing out their handlebars. The trope, “No Shave November,” is not just about a manly competition for growing the best nose neighbor. It is also not just an excuse tied to being lazy with shaving. Movember is so much more than that. It is about awareness. Male health concerns have in the past been moved to the back burner. Only with the new focus on awareness has there been a vast amount of new research and funding allocated to these serious issues. So, the next time you see a new lip caterpillar during the month of November, just remember, it’s growing for a reason.
You can learn more about Movember and how to participate in the change here.