Content Warning: This article mentions sensitive topics such as suicide.
This November marks the 20-year anniversary of Movember, where men growing out their facial hair to bring awareness and raise funds towards men’s health.
What started as an idea between 30 friends in Melbourne, Australia has evolved into a global initiative. The movement now spans 19 countries including France, South Africa, Singapore, Spain and Canada. The goal in every country is the same—to eliminate the stigma surrounding men’s health.
Movember Canada is offering several ways to get involved, calling on supporters to “Mo Your Own Way.”
This initiative calls on supporters to be daring, break a bad habit or to challenge yourself and share your success on the Movember app.
Those taking part can also set up a fundraising target to share with friends and family while they follow your journey.
“There are so many issues that come from isolation and from the idea that masculinity is harsh and alone,” Leo Garcia Pimentel Carral, wellness education assistant at the Laurier Wellness Centre, said.
“If we address these barriers, I think that it would impact not only individuals but society.”
According to the Government of Canada, it is estimated that 4,500 individuals die to suicide each year. Men and boys are recognized as a high-risk population.
“We can continue to work reactively, or we can start to work proactively to create the community and support that men need,” Pimental Carral said.
Although large-scale initiatives are impactful towards social issues, starting conversations is just as impactful.
“I believe that the individual is also the community. I think a lot of the time we think we must do huge projects to impact everybody…While these projects are great, a lot of the time we don’t have the resourcing or capacity.,” Pimentel Carral said.
“We think we need to outsource our community, but sometimes it’s just your neighbours. Know your neighbours, know your families, know your friends and talk to each other. Be kind to each other,” said Pimentel Carral.
It is important to note that men in one’s life may be struggling – even if they do not show it.
“I can speak to this in an academic and professional sense, but also in a personal sense. Manhood is often isolating, and due to this it becomes difficult to check in on each other and build the community that you need to talk about things,” said Pimentel Carral.
There are resources at the Laurier Wellness Center that help with struggles in mental health and wellness, including free counselling. There is no waitlist or recurring sessions with no end times.
Students can also utilize community building resources that serve as a preventative method for mental health struggles.
“The peer wellness programs help with the social isolation that can at times be felt.”
With 11 wellness educators available, there is always someone to listen to students who are struggling.
For those who wish to support the movember movement, there are other ways to show support.
In the Waterloo region, Apollo Cinema is hosting an evening of magic and illusion for all ages on Nov. 4 at 6:00 p.m. $10 raised from every ticket sale is being donated to the Movember campaign.
Restaurant chain, East Side Mario’s is also supporting Movember Canada. For every purchase during the month of November, the restaurant has pledged to donate 25 cents to the cause.
This article was cross-published in our sister publication, The Cord, Wilfrid Laurier University’s official student newspaper.