Will Brown, Intern for Counselling, Health and Wellbeing shares his Movember story …
I decided to do something different this year. Some of my football team mates persuaded me to take part in Movember to collectively raise awareness of men’s health and also as a ‘team bonding’ exercise; simply see who could grow the best moustache out of the squad. As an intern for the Cardiff University – Counselling, Health and Wellbeing Service, I felt that supporting the efforts of Movember UK naturally came with the job description. Before I go any further, I must quickly state that my moustache did not win ‘best mo’. In fact, it can be safely regarded as a definite ‘slow mo’ in comparison to the competition I was up against.
However, as the official Movember UK website states:
“Men grow real moustaches for Movember. Thin and wispy or thick and full – the size of a Mo doesn’t matter as long as you play by the official rules: no beards or goatees.”
Participating in Movember is not about looking the most macho within the gender group. The male ‘requirement’ of appearing masculine and butch is a primary reason behind the negative stigma associated with discussing male health, both physical and mental.
Talk about it
Over the past year, there have been increased media reports regarding the ignorance of male mental health. Mass media coverage of the shocking suicide of Robin Williams is a key example of this. Horrifying male suicide rates (e.g. 75% of UK suicides in 2011 were Male) within the general population provides justification for the need of further awareness.
This year, the Movember Foundation has placed a lot of emphasis on the promotion of mental health alongside their usual fundraising towards prostate and testicular cancer research and treatment. Mental and physical wellbeing are both of course complexly entwined; they complement each other. This topic is something I am hugely passionate about, being a Psychology student as well as an intern with the Cardiff University Student Support Service… and a male!
The whole point of Movember is to raise awareness of male health by talking about it. Family, friends or strangers instantly notice a Movember moustache. Donations are also hugely welcomed, but not forced. Conversation starters can include:
“Oh that’s an impressive moustache, you look so dashing!”
Or in my case: “Err…what is that?”
Talking about moustaches and Movember can consequently lead to discussions of male health and before we know it, we have already improved from where male health discussions were in the past – non-existent.
I started Movember just like everyone else, a clean shave on the first day of November (see picture below).
Conversations about Movember dramatically increased around mid-November as the presence of male facial hair became more evident. I witnessed many different moustaches, with huge variations in quality. I saw some, quite frankly, hilariously unfortunate attempts, but that is what Movember is all about – participation. I would never hesitate in complementing a fellow ‘Mo Bro’ for his superior moustache whilst also patting someone else on the back for his courage in growing his three/four blonde hairs.
The growth of my moustache was slow at first but, I was rather satisfied with the ‘satisfactory’ outcome. The picture below shows my moustache on day 30. My house mates and team mates even went as far by saying that they liked it! However, my mother and my girlfriend are both hugely relieved that it is gone.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed growing my mo. I will definitely be taking part in Movember again next year. I also encourage you as the reader to take part, regardless of whether you can grow a manly hairy mo, a slow-mo or a no-mo. The Movember Foundation has formed a fantastic cause that is only going to continue growing (excuse the pun)
Will Brown, Intern
Your Student Life, Supported
Counselling, Health & Wellbeing
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