Movember - what's it all about then?


Nov 14, 2014 by Smart Blog

November used to be an ordinary month: until 2004. That's when a group of chaps in Australia decided to raise awareness of, and funds for, men's health issues - a conversation that ultimately grew into the organisation and phenomenon that we now know as Movember.


The basics

The term 'Movember' was originally nothing to do with men's health: it was coined in 1999 by a group of (male) friends in a pub in Adelaide, Australia, who came up with the idea of growing their moustaches to raise funds for charity, in particular an animal charity.

It was 2004 when a totally different group, in Victoria, Australia, used the term in connection with men's health. This group challenged 30 men to spend 30 days growing their moustaches, in order to increase awareness of prostate cancer and mental health issues in men. That group grew into the Movember Foundation.

The Movember movement quickly spread around the world, and as of 2014, the Movember Foundation has raised £346 million and funded more than 800 projects related to men's health, around the world. The foundation's key focuses are on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.


How does it work?

Each year, men around the world (who are affectionately referred to as 'Mo bros') grow their moustaches for the 30 days of November, raising funds and awareness along the way.

There is a certain retro charm about the event; Movember has a set of rules, including the stipulation that every bro must behave like a 'true gentleman', and that there must be 'no beards, no goatees and no fake moustaches'. The Movember Foundation offers detailed information on how to grow and maintain the perfect moustache, including a moustache style guide! All men must be clean shaven on the 1st of November, to ensure an even playing field, and many delight in displaying the growth of their 'tache online and on social media.

However, the bros do not limit themselves to moustache growing. They also raise funds through sports and fitness events, runs, parties and galas.


Is this important?

In a word, yes. Studies suggest that men are less likely than women to seek medical help when they first experience symptoms of an illness, be that physical or mental. Therefore, when they are ill, they tend to present to health care services later, which leads to poorer outcomes. Some men don't make it to the doctor, at all.

Furthermore, some illnesses that are quite common in men are more readily associated with women. This can make men less likely to spot symptoms in themselves and each other. Examples include eating disorders and depression.

Sobering facts about men's health include:

  •  In 2011, 75% of UK suicides were men.
  •  One in eight men are suffering from a common mental health disorder at any given time.
  •  Men visit their GP 20% less frequently than women, and are less likely to have regular check-ups.
  •  One in five men has not seen a doctor in the past three years: 2% have never seen one.

Clearly, the promotion of men's health is important. So the next time a previously clean-shaven acquaintance appears to be growing some facial fuzz... why not ask them about it?