By Fiona Lee
Movember is once again knocking on our doorstep and asking for support in the next coming weeks.
Movember is the world’s leading men’s charity. They want men to live happier, longer and healthier lives by focusing on critical points of men’s health: prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention.
SIN spoke with Jack O’Connor, Country Manager of ‘Movember’ Ireland, to learn more about the charity’s goals and activities for this year’s campaign.
‘We have our annual moustache growing campaign where guys will grow moustaches for the 30 days of November. Others will take on our ‘move challenges’ which is a 60km run throughout November, 60k for the 60 men we lose to suicide every hour. People can also host events, but this will be slightly different this year, potentially a lot of Zoom Quizzes!
“The final way people can engage in the campaign is ‘Mow Your Own Way’ which is deliberately broad, that’s for people who want to take on more unique challenges. They can come up with their own way they want to support us and stick a moustache on it”.
The pandemic has put stresses on cancer services and everyone’s mental health, so Jack thinks it’s important to engage with the campaign more than ever.
“We were speaking to a doctor and he reckoned that in the next 12 to 18 months, there will a surge of late cancer diagnoses, which is obviously problematic. That is not even to touch on the obvious mental health side effects of COVID.
“We did a piece of research years ago that identified some of the prime risk factors of men’s mental health. That included loss of a job, parents being sick or a loss of a parent, breakdowns of relationships and the stresses of parenting. All these things have been magnified in the pandemic. There have been many job losses, worries about parents getting COVID, people are bickering with their partners more because they are stuck in lockdown, or being in lockdown with their kids wrecking their heads!
“The things we all have readily available to combat these stresses are our social connections. Even they are under attack by the pandemic with the lockdown. We want people to remember to stay social connected and be aware of the signs that something is off with their mates”.
Jack said that it is important to make more of an effort to stay connected, pay attention and check in on friends during the next six weeks of lockdown and beyond.
“Some of the signs of someone who is struggling would be noticing changes in people’s behaviour. So if someone is normally the king of the group chat and they’ve suddenly gone quiet and stopped replying to messages, or if someone is usually super chilled out and all of a sudden they’re eating the head off people for no reason. Listen to what people are saying, if someone is suddenly speaking very negatively in terms of despair like ‘I’m sick of this’ and ‘I can’t do this anymore’ or all that sort of stuff. These are signs that someone might be struggling”.
Movember has designed a 4 step model called ALEC, that is designed to help you open a conversation with someone who might be struggling.
A – ASK someone how they’re doing – something as simple as ‘You don’t seem yourself lately – are you feeling OK?’
L – LISTEN. Give them your full attention.
E – ENCOURAGE ACTION. Help them to focus on simple things that might improve how they feel.
C – CHECK IN. Follow up after your chat. This reinforces that you care and can help you to gauge if they’re feeling any better.
If you’re worried someone’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services (call 999).
Movember has gotten a lot of support but still needs people to step up and engage with the campaign.
“I’ve been really happy to see the amount of support we have gotten. We are slightly ahead of where we thought we would be now but it’s early in the game to say for sure how the campaign will go.
“It’s been heart-warming to see the support we’ve received. It’s easy to be negative with the lockdown in place, but I think people are gravitating towards positive things and a movement for good so I’m glad that Movember has been able to be that for people”.
There are different challenges you can take to engage with the campaign. Go to ie.movember.com to learn how you can help and pop a message to your friend to check in and see how they’re doing. It has never been more important to look out for one another in these trying times.