‘Movember wants to build on its legacy’

Movember has increased its work in the field of men’s mental health in recent years, following its early fundraising success and raising awareness of prostate and testicular cancer.

Now its CEO, Michelle Terry, wants to use the charity’s global reach to have a bigger impact in addressing men’s mental and physical health.

Terry has been leading Movember for about three years, although the charity itself was founded in Australia in 2003.

“They were two guys in a pub in Melbourne, musing about the fact that the mustache is gone, and maybe they should bring it back and bring it back for a good reason. So basically, they started with a November challenge, now known as Movember, to 30 buddies who were growing up.”

They realized “we have a movement here” and really liked the work that was happening on breast cancer, so they decided to do something for the guys “because no one seemed to be talking about them.”

“We went global so quickly, because we knew we had something.”

The couple went to the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Australia, and then began raising money for the disease around the world.

“We went global really quickly, because we knew we had something here in terms of raising awareness of men’s health that helped them talk to other men and talk to the people in their lives about what they were going through, and whether it was a mental health issue or a physical health issue.” “.

Terry says Movember has “grew since”, raising more than £600m for prostate and testicular cancer. The three areas of focus are prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health.

Trained as a psychologist, Terry became driven by a desire to integrate mental health support and the corporate world.

“I’m helping to bring that together, to bring that lens to grow Movember, and to think about how we can help more men around the world.

“We are very fortunate to be international in scope and scale. We operate in, raise money, and also spread money to 20 countries around the world. We are very strong in a few countries, such as the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, the US and Canada.”

COVID-19: We felt this was our moment

Men’s mental health has been a big focus for the charity in recent years, and coronavirus has spurred this on.

“I remember we were very aware in 2020 especially, about our role and the need to count and think about how we can really serve the community of men who are really suffering from isolation and lack of social support, et cetera, in the field of mental health.”

She says the pandemic has also had a significant impact on other areas of Movember’s work: “The lack of access to health systems means we will have back-up problems in terms of cancer treatment.

“We put together some digital tools and advice. We reached out to the community of men we serve, to make sure we really leaned in because it was obviously a time of crisis for a lot of people. So, we felt like this was our moment — we really needed to be there who For the guys we were taking care of, and we were trying to get through.”

Terry expected donations to drop during the pandemic, but was “surprised” to find that Movember’s fundraising process was flexible.

“We’ve already had a very strong year in 2020 and 2021. I think people have really responded to the call we’ve been putting out to the community to say ‘men in crisis – we’ve got men who are really struggling with their mental health, we’ve got issues in terms of physical health – let’s go out and support them’.” We were amazingly humbled by the community’s support at that time.”

Continued focus on mental and physical illnesses

Movember aims for further development, with a special focus on cancer care.

“We’d like to build on the legacy we’ve built with regard to prostate and testicular cancer. So, we’ve been able to work with a lot of other people to marshal the real world evidence, and build biomedical treatments and tests that have improved the death rate and survival rate for people diagnosed [with cancer]. We are very proud of that. We want to continue to push that into clinical practice.”

But Terry also says the charity aims to increase its focus on mental health.

“I think we all recognize that mental health is an increasing issue and burden in our society, and we want to be the people who really talk to men and think about the preventative level.”

“One of the slight silver linings to Covid is that people are more mental health conscious,” Terry suggests.

“Overall, they are more willing to have this conversation and more aware of protective factors or risk factors for mental health.”

But, she says, “this does not mean that we are close to solving these problems” because “these are complex problems that require the intersection of behavioral change, regime change, and norm change.”

When we think of gender norms, they often fixate the problem. Therefore, men are taught that it is not okay to talk about their feelings, that they need to be stoic, and so on. We need to think about how we can change these generational norms to allow men to be a version of themselves that makes sense to them, but also allows them to express themselves and think about healthy behaviours.”

What Movember does in the other eleven months of the year

In the run-up to the Movember conference, which takes place this month, Terry says the charity spends “a lot of time” thinking about how to re-engage long-term supporters, “but also think about how to engage new people”.

Movember’s most famous annual campaign involves fundraisers growing a mustache during November, but Terry says the charity presents other challenges.

She says some people might want to run, walk or bike 60 kilometers or more, to celebrate the 60 men who commit suicide every hour.

The Duchess of Cambridge recently launched Mental Fitness for the Rugby World Cup, which Movember sponsored along with the overall tournament.

“We had a moment at the beginning of that, it was a minute of no silence. And the lack of silence is that people made a lot of noise and tension around the idea of ​​one man every minute taking his life.”

Terry says the charity is active year-round, running programmes, working on biomedical research and creating networks of doctors to improve test outcomes and treatments for cancer.

“Every day of the year, whether it’s November or not, we’re standing up for men’s health,” she says.

“Obviously we raise a lot of money and awareness in the month of Movember, and we’re very proud of that, but we keep going for the rest of the year. We’re engaging our community and we’re also making an impact on men through programs.”

Movember turns 20 next year “which marks a huge milestone” and “what I really hope is that we continue to raise our profile, continue to make a real impact on the earth,” says Terry.

Terry says men’s health is a “wickedly complex problem” and the charity plans to be “much more successful at creating and changing the world we want to see if we share with others”.

“The more we can work with partners, think about the problem we are seeking to solve, and how we can have a collective impact, the better.”


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