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We’ve all heard about the Shave for a Cure campaign, to raise money for Leukaemia but November (or MOvember as it’s now known in our house) is a reason NOT to shave.   Yes, in November, men across Australia and another 20 countries worldwide, throw away their razors, to support men’s health issues.  Well, they don’t really throw away their razor as it’s only moustaches they grow, not beards, so they still need to shave but that would ruin a great line like “throw away their razors.” Um.. I think I just ruined it with the explanation… but I digress..

Ten years ago this fantastic campaign started.  Both my sons are taking part this year and I’m so very proud of them.  The reason I love this campaign so much, is that it helps men start a conversation.  We women are pretty well catered for when it comes to dealing with talking.  We are communicators…. we talk.. we bitch… we gossip.. we sympathise… we support….we lend an ear.. we console… we offer advise.. we communicate.  Men don’t do that as much.. yes, they can sit at a bar for hours on end and chat away to mates around them but they don’t generally get personal.  It’s not the blokey way.

We girls will ask our friends when our last pap smear was… or give each other a kick up the bum if our mammograms are past their due date.. I’ve even heard of ladies organising a girly day where mammograms are done with a group of friends and then lunch and a pamper session to end the day.  What a great idea.  We’ll know just by  hearing a voice that our friends are not themselves.. that something is bothering them.  Men don’t generally say to a mate.. “so, had a prostate exam lately?”.  It rarely happens.  They don’t often look at a friend and just know they need a hug…. even if they did, it probably wouldn’t eventuate. Men are much more private than we women are.

So men’s issues are often overlooked.  My sons are very aware of mental health issues as they both have PTSD and have lived through the trauma of having a mentally ill father who wouldn’t seek help for his  problems.  This resulted in him affecting all our lives forever.  He wasn’t always a bad or violent man.  He was and I believe, still is, a very unwell man.  A man who was raised not to speak about your problems. A man who was told “big men don’t cry”.  A man who had very few friends as he was never taught to cultivate a friendship.  A ticking time bomb.. waiting to explode.

My sons have had to talk.  They had to see counsellors after my daughter was killed.  They had amazing teachers who encouraged them to talk.   They had a grandmother who had a sneaky way of dragging your troubles out of you.  They had a mother who had friends that talked and talked and talked so they learned by example.  When their lives fell apart, they had friends who were too young to have put up the barriers often learned in adolescence so were still happy to talk and listen.  If they hadn’t had all of this, my story may have been so much sadder than it has been.

In Australia, the average amount of suicides every year is approximately 2320. In 2011 there were 2273 known suicides, with 1727 of them being males and 546 females.  No one should feel that it is their only option.  I don’t want to get into the suicide debate here and will delete any comments made about anyone who commits suicide as I know people who bear the scars of losing loved ones and they don’t need to hear anyone’s opinion of whether it’s right or wrong.  It is just what it is. Heartbreaking! My point here is that it is predominately men who are affected.  They generally don’t have the same network that we women do.  Please note I am speaking generally here as many men are fantastic communicators but they are in the minority still.

It is changing though.  Campaigns such as the RU OK day, where we remind people to ask their friends, are you okay? have really started to change attitudes.  But I think Movember really appeals to most Aussie men.  Not only is it a great opportunity to gross those of us who hate moustaches out.. but they can laugh at themselves while still having the conversation.  It eases the uncomfortable feeling of talking about personal stuff by being so very blokey.  And it’s something that only men (and menopausal women like me) can do.. Grow a mo!  Movember covers men’s health issues on the whole.  It opens the conversation about prostate checks, heart checks, blood checks, stress levels, depression, anxiety….all of those things that for too long have been ignored.

I know I’ve spoken mainly about mental health but there are so many other health issues affecting men.  We are all affected by men’s health.  Unless you are a nun in a hermit style convent which never sees the outside world, not even priests, you are going to be affected by men’s health.  If you have a husband, a boyfriend, a son, a brother, a father, an uncle, a nephew, a grandson, a son in law, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, a boss…. you are going to be affected sometime.   We need to encourage the men (and boys) in our lives to speak more.  We need to embrace events like RU OK day and Movember that start conversations as well as raise funds.  We need to support these days too, to keep the momentum going.  Our MoBro’s need their MoSis’s to help out.

I have to do a big shout out to the Fairmont Hotel in Leura NSW who have not only bent the grooming policy for the month of Movember, but have got behind the event completely.  Even the General Manager has joined the team of 11.  I know other businesses are also getting behind Movember as well and to those of you who are supporting it….    THANK YOU!… You are changing the face of our nation.  Thankfully the moustache change comes off after a month, but the other changes will remain.  You’re doing your bit to ensure our male population will have a higher life expectancy as the years go by.

If you can get behind Movember, please do.  If you can donate even $2 to the cause, it would be greatly appreciated.  This is probably the only time I would not be nagging my boys to shave lol.  In fact, I’ve sponsored them to grow a mo and trust me, I hate them.  That’s how strong I feel about this cause.  I’ve put my son’s Mo Bro Links on here.  Feel free to wander over and have a look and see the reasons they are so involved.

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The following is straight from the Movember Australia Website. Click on the link to go over and have a look at it to learn more.

During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of millions of moustaches around the world. With their “Mo’s” men raise vital funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health. As an independent global charity, Movember’s vision is to have an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health.

Movember challenges men to grow a moustache for the 30-days of November, thereby changing their appearance and the face of men’s health.

In October Mo Bros sign up at Movember.com, and on the 1st of Movember with a clean-shaven face start their Mo growing journey.

Then for the entire month, these selfless and generous men known as Mo Bros, effectively become walking, talking billboards for 30 days. Through their growing efforts they raise awareness for the often ignored issues of men’s health, by prompting conversations wherever they go.

Another crucial part of being a Mo Bro is to raise funds for men’s health. Men donate their face, and much like taking part in a run or a walk for charity, ask their family and friends to sponsor their efforts.

Movember’s not just for men. The women of Movember are known as Mo Sistas. They play a vital role in the success of Movember by supporting and encouraging the men in their life to get involved. Mo Sistas also get involved by signing up at Movember.com, and participate by raising funds and awareness themselves. Essentially, Mo Sistas do everything that Mo Bros do, without a Mo.

Since its humble beginnings in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia, Movember has grown to become a truly global movement inspiring more than 3 Million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to participate across 21 countries worldwide

In addition, Movember is aware of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the campaign and men’s health causes across the globe, from Moscow to Rio de Janeiro, and everywhere in between.

Happy Movember… Livvy 🙂