No Shave, No Care: How Social Workers Can Highlight Men’s Health in Movember

November 20 @ 7:33 pm

Every November since its inception, we witness men of all ages making a seemingly simple choice- to scrap their razors and grow out their mustaches and beards. While some may joke about these newfound facial hair experiments bringing good luck to their favorite football teams, Movember, also known as No Shave November, carries a deeper purpose. Beyond the scruff and humor lies an essential cause: raising awareness about men’s health. 

In 2003, two friends from Melbourne, Australia, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, were inspired to revive the mustache trend, which had faded from fashion. Their idea evolved into Movember, a campaign focused on men’s health and prostate cancer awareness. They established rules and encouraged participants to grow mustaches, charging them ten dollars. With 30 initial participants, the enthusiasm grew, prompting them to formalize the concept in 2004. Adam Garone and Justin Coghlan joined to expand Movember, and the campaign gained momentum. The original 30 participants researched men’s health issues and decided to support prostate cancer. In 2004, 450 “Mo Bros” raised AUD 54,000, and the movement expanded internationally. The proceeds were donated to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, making a significant impact.

Since then, it has spread to countries worldwide, encouraging men to grow facial hair during November to raise awareness about health issues that disproportionately affect them. While prostate cancer and testicular cancer are central to the campaign, Movember has also expanded its scope to address mental health and suicide prevention among men. 

Men often hesitate to seek help for mental health issues, contributing to higher rates of suicide among males. Social workers, the leading mental health practitioners within the U.S., possess specialized training and employ comprehensive methods to comprehend and support individuals grappling with mental health challenges. They have the skill set to establish secure environments where men can openly express their emotions and receive coping strategies, preventing them from enduring their struggles in solitude. One of the initiatives addressing this issue includes the national tour known as Just Heal, Bro,

Just Heal, Bro is a worldwide program to empower Black men to discover resilience through embracing vulnerability, facilitating mental and emotional well-being through education and community engagement, nurturing emotional intelligence and resilience-building tools, fostering camaraderie and community bonds, and supporting personal healing journeys. By incorporating mental health awareness into Movember activities, social workers can help reduce the stigma surrounding men’s mental well-being. 

As part of Movember’s broader goals, suicide prevention is an integral component. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 48,000 individuals in the United States lost their lives to suicide in 2021. During that same year, the suicide rate for men was nearly four times higher than that for women. Although men constitute approximately half of the U.S. population, they represent almost 80% of suicide cases. Nevertheless, specific groups of men face a higher risk of suicide, with variations in suicide rates based on factors such as age, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and occupation.

Created by mental health professionals and supported by Movember, “Movember Conversations” is an internet-based resource for individuals seeking to enhance their confidence and knowledge in effectively engaging in crucial discussions with men facing difficulties. “Movember Conversations” assists users by illustrating everyday situations and guiding conversation starters and responses that facilitate productive and meaningful dialogue.

Movember is more than just a month of facial hair experimentation; it’s a call to action. Social workers are crucial in this movement by providing education, mental health treatment, support, and advocacy. This November, let’s encourage men to embrace facial hair, start meaningful conversations, and prioritize their well-being.