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Goodbye, oh sexy clean shaven man. Hello, silly rugged beast.

Yes, it’s that time of year again: we have entered the month where the mo makes a valiant return to the facial fashion of men everywhere. Sure, they look a little ridiculous, make you think of Charlie Chaplin and are certainly not smooching material, let alone CUDDLE material, but the fact that razors have been made temporarily redundant and we are seemingly in a time warp back to when shaving cream clearly did not exist is, once again, all in the name of a good cause. A great cause, actually. And you know what? We think you should be reminded of it. And gentlemen, we think you should grow your mo. And ladies, we think you should encourage your gentleman to grow their mos. After all, even upper lips must start to build calluses eventually.

Created in 2003 to push the issue of men’s health into the public arena, Movember has reached a global audience in the past 6 years and has raised AU$60 million for its beneficiaries to fight the good fight against prostrate cancer and male depression. One of these beneficiaries is Beyond Blue, the nation’s foremost depression initiative. When the organisation was approached by Movember in 2004, Beyond Blue had just one question: Where do we sign?

“In their quest to change the face of men’s health, [Movember’s founders] Luke Slattery and Travis Garone found that one of the main issues was depression,” says Beyond Blue’s CEO, Leonie Young.
“We knew we had to achieve awareness because depression and anxiety are significant health problems, and they have a stigma attached to them.

And change the face of men’s health it has, quite literally. One of the main motivations behind Movember has been to get people talking, and to crush the walls which have enclosed the topic of male depression for so long. And given the statistics, there is an aching need for such an evolution.

One in six men experience depression and/or anxiety at some point in their lives, and 80 per cent of deaths by suicide in Australia account of men. About 70 per cent of men who have a mental illness to not seek professional treatment.

So the point of Movember is not only to raise funds for the organisations to grapple with the issues, but to get men to understand that they’re not alone.

Leonie says that attention towards male depression has been incrementally rising during the past 10 years, and Beyond Blue’s main goal has been to change the negative perception directed towards mental illness. Most importantly, the organisation wants people to know that depression is not a weakness. Reducing this stigma has taken of a lot of time and energy in the hope to ultimately culminate with public awareness. For now, men can still at times be reluctant to speak up, so Leonie urges their mates to watch out for them.

“With the right treatment, most men do recover,” she says.
“They actually have lower rates of depression than women, but they don’t seek help and tend to steer towards alcohol and drugs to feel better – that’s why we find it so important for mates to keep their eye on any changed behaviour.”

This kind of changed behaviour most predominantly includes withdrawing from social activities and isolating themselves. People who are suffering from depression also tend to have altered sleeping patterns, headaches and stomach pains, and speak negatively about life and their existence.

If anyone notices this behaviour in their loved ones, Leonie urges them to take them to their nearest GP, call the info line and to just generally be there for them.

“You have to avoid isolating people with depression further, and you can’t accept that they don’t want to participate,” she says.
“Definitely do not take them to the pub, as alcohol can worsen depression.
“Most of all, encourage them to have conversation. That’s the wonderful thing about growing a mo: people start to talk about these things.”

And it’s not just the boys who get to make a difference – Leonie says that Mo Sistas, or more commonly referred to as the ladies in their lives, often play a huge role in making that first call to get help for their male friend or loved ones’ depression.

Whether you are someone who is suffering from depression or know someone who is, Beyond Blue offers an info line for both men and women. When it was established in 2006, there were around 300 calls a month. Now, more than 4,000 calls come from men alone.

The number is 1300 224 636, and someone’s there to listen, night or day. They can also direct you to the nearest service where you can get treatment.

So, the moral of the story? There is help, and there is a better day ahead.
We promise.

For help close to you, click through to the Beyond Blue map. There’s even more information on the kind of help you an receive and where to receive it here.

Side note: Boys, if you don’t grow a mo for Movember, you’re pretty lame. And we’ll be surprised if ANY lady kisses you.

words: Seema Duggal


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