Have you noticed anything different about some of your friends this month? Maybe certain colleagues are looking a little furrier than usual? 🥸 Wonder no more - it's all in the name of Movember.
A combination of the Australian English "moustache" and "November", Movember has become an annual event that raises awareness about men's health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide. By spreading knowledge and encouraging men to get involved, Movember aims to reduce the number of preventable deaths and encourage men to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
At TeamUp, we also believe in promoting positive habits and raising awareness for good causes. Account Executive Keegan Longueira shares his thoughts about Movember and the effect it's having around the world. Read on or click the image below to watch the full interview with Keegan and Tash.
Movember started around 20 years ago. In the beginning, it was simply a group of guys growing mustaches for awareness of different issues that men have. Some were cancers that men suffered from specifically, some were mental health issues - everybody had their reasons. The mustache was the classic way to represent your support and show people you were doing it.
The official Movember organization has been great because they've harnessed that movement and they've included everybody. You can grow a beard, but we've also seen women growing their underarm hair, leg hair... it's just really a big movement and it's not necessarily for any specific group. It’s even movement goals. Movember is saying we support health issues for men, whether it's mental health or different cancers, and you get this platform where you can raise money for a good cause.
Caring for our mental health
I think there's always been a stigma around men just sharing, especially when it comes to mental health issues. I grew up in South Africa and it was very much based on playing rugby, getting outside, being tough with your friends, and don't cry about it.
For me personally, in my early 20s, 22, 23, around that age, I was really confused and didn't know what I wanted with my life. I was on this path to explore things and I just didn't fit in, which led to a bit of isolation. I went within myself and started suffering from some mental health issues. Hitting rock bottom was like a wake-up call, for me and the people closest around me.
"There's always been a stigma around men just sharing, especially when it comes to mental health issues."
I reached out to a psychologist for the first time in my life and asked Is there something wrong with me? How do I get over this? Do I need to be on medication? What's the next step? I had all these questions and I expected a quick answer, like one consultation and we're done.
I’ve been seeing that same psychologist now for nearly 10 years - I sometimes once a month, sometimes once a year if things are going well. But there are these fluctuations in life, highs, and lows you go through. Having somebody who knows your story that you can speak to has been amazing. I think that's why I've always loved Movember and always supported it.
Supporting the next generation
I don't regret anything. The only thing that I wish I had the opportunity to do more is just to speak to younger people about those sorts of issues. We've got such amazing platforms: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok... and I don't know what's going on with the younger generation. I wish I had the opportunity to reach out and to help them through and just know like, 'hey, you're not weird, you're not different. These things happen.' So no regrets. But doing more is something I would like to do.
I think there is sharing. I also think that it's still hidden. Sometimes you've got to scratch a little bit deeper and there are warning signs. People do tend to reach out and have these warning signs. Often people overlook it. Start asking those questions when people, especially men around us, have those comments or red flags. I ask, ‘hey, what did you mean by that?’ Or ‘do you really feel like that?’ That kind of thing.
"The official Movember organization has been great because they've harnessed that movement and they've included everybody."
Sometimes people just need an invitation to open up. I think it's up to us sometimes when people give us these little hints that they want to talk. We just need to take the time, recognize it, and set aside 5-10 minutes to have a chat. It happens at work. It happens in day-to-day life, whether you're in the gym or with family or friends. I think it's important just to tune into what fellow men are feeling.
Setting personal goals
My goal is just to move every single day and to track it. It's either going to be a walk, going to the gym, or a 10-minute quick exercise or something, just to get out. It sounds easy enough. But for me, Saturdays and Sundays can sometimes be really lazy days. By tracking it, I think I'm being more aware of it. This is why I'm doing it. Hopefully, I'll put some posts out there too. I do want to raise a bit of money. Often, we have a bit of an internal family challenge where we put money in a pot and whoever has the best mustache at the end of the month gets to donate all the money to their chosen charity. I had the bragging rights last year with my family. Hopefully, I can pull it off again!
Obviously the mustache is a big one. I haven't done the clean shave yet. I'm still considering it. My wife always says she likes my mustache. So she encouraged me to keep it all year round. I've been doing Movember for the last five years. Every month is Movember!
Movember at TeamUp
When people see your mustache in November, they immediately think okay, well, that's what it's for. Which is a good thing. There’s a bit of a Movember platform we've created here at TeamUp. We've got a page where people can add a profile and set some goals, e.g. how many kilometers you want to do this month for the cause, then just send that link out to people. You can send it to colleagues and family members who want to donate money.
Even just setting a goal for yourself, whether it's 200 pounds or 200 euros, whatever that is, try to raise a bit of money. I think it's a great way to do it. If you are going to go clean-shaven and start growing the mustache again, there's a place on the app where you can post every single day what your face looks like. It makes a collage so you can see the transformation.
Increasing awareness and acceptance of mental health issues
I can't grow a fantastic mustache myself, even though I try my best. But it's been something that has been over the years. More and more movements come along in terms of mental health in general. There is a stigma to be around it for not only males, but females in general. And that's something that's close to my heart where it needs to be improved. It needs to be made more transparent. It's something that doesn't have a schedule. So, we have to create ways to accommodate it in our lives. For me, your health is a priority. How that starts is by making sure you're okay, whether that’s doing two tests with the doctor per year or going to a psychologist at some point and wanting to chat things through. Every month for me is Movember as well, just in different ways. I think that's a great opportunity.
"That awareness of just checking in with yourself and recognizing when things are going pear-shaped and that it's okay that it's going pear-shaped and it will get better."
We never think, oh, I've eaten a salad this year. I can just eat whatever I want now for the rest of the year. It's an ongoing effort. It takes consistency and checking in with yourself. I always like to see it as a little mirror outside of myself where I can look and see what's going on with myself. Looking at this mirror and saying, ‘hey, Keegan, you're not okay right now. Just checking in.’ That awareness of just checking in with yourself and recognizing when things are going pear-shaped and that it's okay that it's going pear-shaped and it will get better.
Movember: Ways you can you get involved
The key is to spread awareness and raise research funds, in whichever way works best for you. It’s about trying to make positive steps that can lead to better outcomes for men.
We hope you're getting involved too! Stay safe and stay healthy.