Every November, the Movember Foundation brings the issue of men’s health back into the national conversation with their well-known moustache-growing campaign. They raise awareness of the fact that men die an average of 6 years younger than women for reasons which are largely preventable, often based on a reluctance to seek help and speak out about health concerns. Stiff upper lips and pressure to ‘be a man’ means conversations about men’s health are often side-lined. This is why charities like Prostate Cancer UK and CALM team up with the Movember Foundation each year to raise awareness of the common health issues causing men to die too young. They aim to tackle social stigma that stops men talking openly to each other about their health. Conversation is key to the men’s health debate – so to kick off discussions this month, here are the issues that will be front and centre of Movember:
A staggering 11,000 men die from prostate cancer in the UK every year, but the exact cause is still unknown. Reluctance amongst men to confront health concerns is preventing this issue from becoming common knowledge. Prostate Cancer UK, with high-profile ambassadors within the English Football League and TALKSport, are leading the charge in encouraging men to become well-informed, vigilant and proactive in preventing and tackling the disease. They’re currently raising awareness of prostate cancer among black men – 1 in 4 will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime, compared with 1 in 8 of other ethnicities.
Testicular cancer, although relatively rarer, is the most common cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 35. Some men delay seeking help because they don’t feel any pain, or feel fit and healthy. Others have said they have waited to avoid appearing weak or “making a fuss out of nothing”. For many, pressure to ‘be a man’ and the British ‘stiff upper lip’ culture is preventing them from seeking help for potentially serious medical issues.
Last year, 75% of UK suicides were men aged under 45 – a shocking statistic that shows many younger men are driven to the point where they no longer see value in life. Since 2003, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) has worked on helping men to open up. Slogans such as ‘being silent isn’t being strong’ aim to encourage men to speak out and seek the help they need. CALM is working hard to break down these barriers by providing a helpline for men who are in crisis, and by pushing for changes in policy and practice – so that male suicide can be prevented.
Mental health issues can affect anyone, and 12.5% of men in the UK are suffering from one or more. Many suffer in silence and refuse to seek medical attention for issues that are not considered ‘physical’. In a 2016 survey by Opinion Leader, the majority of men said they would take time off to get medical help for physical symptoms; yet less than 1 in 5 said they would seek medical help for anxiety or while feeling low. A severe mental health problem can have devastating wider consequences, such as homelessness, which mostly impacts men. Men’s mental health issues are all too often side-lined, and not taken as seriously as they should be. Speaking up and seeking help can save lives.
You can sport a moustache or grow a mullet this Movember – but starting a conversation is key. Stay tuned for more insights from 72Point and OnePoll this Men’s Health Awareness Month and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how we support national awareness campaigns with high-quality media exposure.