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Movember matters

Think Local

In 2003, two brothers sat at a bar in Fitzroy in Melbourne, talking about moustaches, not realising they would go on to create the world's largest men's health movement. The first Movember event held by Adam and Travis Garone involved a group of 30 men, each growing a 'Mo' and raising money for charity.

Over the past 12 years, the 'Mo Community' as it is affectionately referred to globally, has raised over $580 million and has funded more than 800 programs to date in 21 countries. The organisation says this work is improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.

Men taking part in the campaign need to start on November 1 clean shaven and then grow their moustaches for 30 days, getting friends, family and colleagues to donate to their "moustache-growing efforts".

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian men and testicular cancer is the second most common cancer - behind skin cancers in young men aged 19 to 39 years.

On top of that, in Australia today, almost half of all men will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives.

Movember Foundation CEO Adam Garone says too often the first and only time a man expresses how he is feeling is tragically in a suicide note.

"About half a million men die from suicide each year - that's one every minute," he says. "This is the unacceptable state of affairs and should be a national and global priority. Yet it’s hidden in the shadows and shrouded in stigma.”

He says the truth is that many men are toughing it out and keeping their problems to themselves and suffering in silence.

"We know that women are more likely to suffer from depression but they are more likely to seek help. The truth we need to accept and start talking about, is that the rules of masculinity prevent many men from taking action when it comes to their mental health - right at the very time they need it most” he comments.

Mosman resident Reza Choudhury will be growing his moustache for the third time, to again support this year’s Movem ber men’s charity.

For him it’s a deeply personal commitment following the death of his father in Bangladesh in 2006 from prostate cancer and other health complications.

He says his father‘s death reinforced the significant challenges in men’s health issues - not only in Bangladesh but all over the world. Reza migrated to Australia in 2007.

"I first took on the Movember challenge in 2011, then again in 2013 and now in 2015,” he tells North Shore Living.

"Men have many issues and often don’t want to speak openly about them - this could be stress or anxiety or depression. I feel very passionate about highlighting these issues through the Movember charity.

"Many Australian men don't seek help because of the culture, but it seems to be the same all over the world.”

He's encouraging men to pay attention to all their health needs and is actively putting his campaign on Facebook this year, where he will publish all donors with a picture of himself to say "thank you”.

Movember community manager Kieran Ryan says in 2014, about 94,000 Mo brothers and sisters signed up to support the charity, raising $21 million dollars for health projects nationally.

“Our message is being driven by our supporters in city and rural areas all around Australia,” he tells North Shore Living.

"By growing a moustache, our supporters become walking, talking billboards and provide a catalyst that sparks that all important conversation.

"This year our Mo sisters will be involved in a campaign called Move, which will encourage men to keep moving, exercise and keep fit,” he says.

In 2012, Movember was again ranked in the top 100 charities in the world based on three key criteria - impact, innovation and sustainability.

To put that in perspective, there are five million NGO charities around the world.

"Movember’s success can largely be attributed to the strength of the global community. Regardless of the city in which you live, we are part of something bigger, and united to change the face of men’s health." says Adam Garone.

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