As part of a series of articles to raise awareness about Movember, contributor Conor Kelly talks about their own experience of dealing with mental and physical health issues.

 

For most people, November is an average month. But for people like me and many others, it’s a month to reflect and take account of our spiritual, mental and physical health.

Movember takes place every year during the month of, you guessed it, November. It is a month-long campaign to raise funds for health issues that affect men. People do events and fundraisers to help raise money for research and awareness for mental health problems such as suicide and depression and as well for testicular and prostate cancer research. 

The movement began in Australia in 2003 when two friends, Travis and Luke, decided to try and bring the moustache back into fashion. Travis and Luke were inspired by a friend’s mother who had raised money for her breast cancer treatment and decided to create the campaign to focus on men’s mental and physical health. Fast forward 16 years and the campaign has grown into a global movement with over 5 million people spreading awareness and growing a moustache to raise funds for essential research.

It is now a charity that is tackling the issue of men’s health on a global scale. We live in a world where men, on average, are living six years less than women because of medical issues that are largely preventable. In the next 15 years, unchecked prostate cancer rates will double, and already testicular cancer rates have doubled over the last 50 years. One man dies by suicide ever 60 seconds and men account for ¾ of suicides in Ireland.

As a young person today I don’t think a lot about my mortality, but in  November of 2018 I found a lump on my testicles. It shook me in my existence and after I lost a good friend of mine earlier this year to suicide, I have been continuously thinking about what it means to be alive.  

I have dealt with mental health problems in my life, as does everyone else, because that’s what happens. It’s normal to have dark days and it’s normal to go to counselling. It’s made me a happier person and If I didn’t have supports such as the people around me and the help of medical professionals I wouldn’t be here today speaking about my mental health.

 

So why am I raising funds for the Movember Foundation? 

Well, their mission to me is about standing up and saying ‘’yeah I’m not okay – I need help’’.  It’s the ability to do this despite a culture of toxic masculinity perpetuated by people saying things like ‘’buck up’’ and ‘’men don’t cry’’. Well, you know what, I cry, and I don’t care. I shouldn’t have to live in a culture where I see everyone I know hurting.  As an activist and social worker I have a duty to people of all ages to protect their best interest but to also make sure that they are empowered to make their own decisions. It’s important to break the barriers of the ‘’strong man culture’’ we experience in our personal lives and to start talking about mental health stigma.

As part of this series, I have reached out to people who have different stories to tell about their mental health and how it has shaped everything they do now in the present.

We all live in a society where, for too long, people have suffered in silence, where there is a national shortage of mental health professionals and facilities. Mental health doesn’t discriminate, no matter if you come from a rich or poor family, if you are or are not straight. 

At this time the best thing we can do for ourselves, our families and friends, is just talk because there’s no issue too small and no problem too big that can’t be helped if you just talk, because a problem shared is a problem halved. 

Here is a link  to my fundraiser for the Movember foundation, by the end of November I wish to have raised 1000 euro for the foundation. 

So, for all the reasons I have mentioned above please if you could donate what you can afford, it would be greatly appreciated.  The price of a coffee or a pint can go towards helping to stop men dying young.

Thank you.

 

 

Photo by Shannon Takhashi

 

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