Men – we need to talk. It’s not about anything in particular, we just need to talk in general.
As we move into another Movember, mental health and general health for men moves into a much clearer focus. Traditionally and stereotypically, men are not good about talking about how they’re feeling or even going to the doctor (unless you’re looking for a doctor’s certificate).
I’ve never participated in growing a mo’ before – mostly due to not being able to grow one – but this year I will get behind it. Hopefully my patchy moustache will be a conversation starter in my little circle.
Luckily for me, I have not suffered the insidiousness of depression but mental health affects everyone and has impacted some of those closest to me. And sadly, I know I’m in the majority.
Movember has the aim of reducing premature death in men by 25 per cent by 2030; but there is so much more to that aim. When it comes to mental health, being able to talk to someone else, and be open with feelings, seems to be tied in with masculinity.
But it is such an outdated idea of what being a man is. Vulnerability is seen as weakness by many men. To me, being truly open and honest and vulnerable is the ultimate sign of strength.
We have been told and shown in popular culture what the ideal of masculinity is – quiet, strong, stoic - but this takes away from the complexity of the human experience.
The fact is, on average, men die earlier than women and men will have worse health than women. Movember even says three quarters of all suicides are men with more than half a million men taking their own lives each year.
It’s been great to see charities like RU OK come up over the past few years but, at the end of the day, this is on everyone. We need to change the view of masculinity so that our young people know it’s okay to ask for help, whether for physical or mental health.
So please support someone who is doing Movember this year, and if not, please talk about Movember this year. No matter the amount of money being raised, we can always raise more awareness.
And maybe as men we will learn to be a bit more open with each other.
- Andrew McMurtry is a Fairfax journalist for north-west Sydney.
- If you are troubled by this report or experiencing a personal crisis, contact Lifeline.org.au (13 11 14) or BeyondBlue.org.au (1300 224 636).