While Movember—the popular men’s health campaign—is in its 11th year raising money and awareness for prostate cancer, it has also included campaigns for mental health and testicular cancer for the past six.
“There’s been an expanded focus. As many people are already aware, the main focus for years was prostate cancer, [and is] now split into men’s mental health and testicular cancer,” said Winnipeg Organizing Committee member Jon Waldman.
“Guys don’t always talk about what’s going on inside, so when you’re facing something like [cancer] that’s life threatening or life challenging, there comes a point where you need to be able to open up, and have those forums to be able to talk about what’s going on,” he said.
Waldman first got involved with Movember through the support of a life-long friend. Three years later, he has found it to be a supportive outlet for dealing with his own mental health issues.
“It’s a little more personal because I have been dealing with my own mental health issues over the last year or so, especially dealing with infertility and previous issues that I hadn’t really addressed,” Waldman said.
In 2008, Movember began to expand its focus to include mental health. “You start to look at how someone’s life is affected when they get the news of prostate cancer or other diseases, [and] what goes on [in their] head,” he said. Funds raised are applied towards grants, research, and the continued effort for awareness. Since 2003, Movember has raised $574 million as a world wide effort.
Movember is not the first nationwide effort to raise awareness for mental health. “When you look at some of the things that have gone on, [like] Bell Let’s Talk promotion, [and] some of the other efforts that are going forward, it certainly has helped [mental health awareness],” he said.
The post-university professional faces mounting pressures between finding a job and supporting a family, he said. Many companies now offer mental health days, but students do not always deal with their mental health effectively before beginning their working careers.
“Most [students] are probably looking at themselves and saying, ‘If I just get through this next exam, or if I just get through this next term paper, I’ll be fine,’ but they’re not taking enough time to really address what is causing their issues,” he said.
“Being in a small community [like a university campus], you are often a little bit more afraid to embrace those outlets,” he said. “The reality is, if an issue isn’t dealt with, it will compound. If you don’t take the proper steps, you could end up a lot worse off for it.”
According to Waldman, Movember’s success will depend on branding themselves like Breast Cancer Awareness Month or Bell Let’s Talk. “It’s still an upward battle that we’re facing—this is a campaign that’s only a decade old,” he said.