Health, Lifestyle, Mens Health, Opinion

Why the moustache? Movember and men’s health in 2018

At its peak, my moustache resembled a cross between a 70s porn star and Fu Manchu. Not necessarily a bad combination yet it itched and I could not resist stroking it like a Bond villain. This is my seventh year as a Mo Bro, essentially the seventh time I have spent November growing a moustache to raise funds and awareness of men’s health. I may look ridiculous, the effect may be off-putting and I don’t care as it is such a worthy cause.

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So far over 1,200 projects have been launched for the benefit of men’s health which includes vital funding for prostate and testicular cancer. However, men’s health is not just physical and of great personal interest is their research into mental health and suicide prevention. Considering that I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and in the past year have firsthand knowledge of the pitfalls from depression and anxiety, it needs to be said that men have to talk. Recently, public awareness has improved regarding the need to get mental health out into the open. This includes some thoughtfully made, thought provoking TV adverts and a plethora of academic studies as well as column inches. There is still work to be done.

Research conducted by the Movember Foundation is both staggering and alarming. Just in the UK;

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime

Three out of four suicides are men.

That last statistic really jumped out at me. Men seem adept at holding in their emotions amid an effort to keep it together but to what end? To impress the opposite sex? To keep in line with what their father told them how to act? Whatever the reasons may be, such reluctance appears flawed, even tragic.

Thankfully, the taboo surrounding mental health is being lifted and men are starting to make their feelings known. On another personal note I can vouch for discussing emotional well-being to close friends and family to open up and let people know what’s going on. Support can be sought from those individuals as well as professional help in the form of therapy. The suffering can only be prolonged if left to manifest and though it takes courage and bravery to tell people, the pros far outweigh the cons.

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My own personal effort in growing a moustache has presented me with an insider account of the benefits of tackling men’s health head on. Sure, the fuzz around my upper lip has meant bus drivers and bar staff have to stifle a laugh. The Half Mo Mast provoked one snide comment, one bemused conversion and several confused glances at The Good Food Show yet I have been quick to point to my 5 Year Mo Bro badge to explain that it’s for charidee. If growing an itchy, embarrassing moustache then shaving half of it off for a day means that more men talk, and even raises money to help the cause, then I’ve done my bit.

If you know someone who’s doing Movember then please donate what you can and search for their fundraising page at https://uk.movember.com/mospace/

If you’d like to donate to myself then you can at https://mobro.co/omarsoliman

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Health, Lifestyle, Mens Health, Opinion

Movember. The Importance of asking ‘how are you’?

This will be the fifth occasion I have participated in Movember and it gets more important every year. Some might say the growing of a moustache is some gimmicky, hipster tradition to show the world ‘Hey, I’ll grow some ridiculous facial hair and get away with it for charity’. If you do think that, you are grossly missing the point.

I truly grasped the importance of Movember in the country where the movement originates, Australia. Over there hipsters seemingly lurk on every corner and moustaches are far more readily spotted. There does not seem to be a taboo over comical upper facial hair, but there does seem to be a taboo over men’s health.

Whenever I think of an Australian, I think of the men I met while doing my farmwork. Tough men who would work in the field all day and come in to a steak dinner. One of the phrases I often heard (though barely aimed at me) was ‘Take a spoonful of concrete and harden the fuck up’. Down under, readily talking about men’s health was frowned upon. Men would not discuss how they were feeling, they’d get their head down and carry on. This is largely the case in the UK where suffering alone is a tangible concern.

Few people ask that simple question, ‘how are you?’ My boss asks me that every so often as she knows there are times when I am struggling, whether that be with my workload or battling Seasonal Affective Disorder. She will take me a quiet area and we will have a ten minute chat where I can offload. It makes a huge difference to know that there is someone checking in on you. When was the last time you asked someone ‘how are you?’ and got a truthful response? ‘I’m alright ta’, when really you have just seen them walk in looking as if they have the world on their shoulders.

Getting men to talk emotionally is a huge challenge and admittedly there are few men I speak to whom I know I can truly offload to. Ask yourself, if you were having a hard time mentally, who would you admit that to? The statistics make for distressing reading –

. One in eight men have experienced a mental health problem

. The biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK is suicide

Men cannot afford to keep it all in and to borrow one of the foundations slogans, ‘Suicide notes talk too late’. Aside from mental health, there are two physical illnesses which Stand Up To Cancer thankfully highlighted last week; prostate and testicular cancer.

. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point

. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men aged 25-49

And yet, do men talk about this? Not really, which is why the Movember Foundation is so vital. Simply talking about men’s health is one huge step and if that means me growing a moustache to raise awareness then great. Happy to.

 

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