Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Movember: Let's talk about men's health.

Movember has been a movement breaking boundaries in the discussion about men's health for over ten years. Starting in 2003, the Movember movement started to get men talking about their health (focusing mainly on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention). As you may have noticed from my first post on this page 5 Self Care Tips, I care about good mental health, and working towards good mental health. What you may not know is that I know first hand about what poor mental health can feel like, including at its most extreme. I suffer from anxiety and depression and have also struggled with eating disorders and self harming. I even got to the point in my late teens where I tried to take my own life. I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by friends and family who worked with me to help me get better and now, although I do sometimes struggle, I am a lot better. But there are so many who aren't in that position or feel for one reason or another that they can't talk about their mental, physical or emotional health; that is why I wanted to dedicate this post to writing about such a fantastic cause.

Now you may be saying to yourself "But Connie, Movember is about men's health... You are not a man, why are you writing about this?" My response is, you are right, I am not. But I know plenty of men. I know men who do struggle with mental health issues, I know men who have family histories of cancer, and I know men who I know nothing about health wise. I know and love so many of these men in my life that when I imagine any of them going through what I did, or any other kind of health issues, without being able to feel like they can talk about it, it breaks my heart. That is why I am writing about Movember. Because as much as I care about women's health, as a woman, men's health is important to me, as it should be for everyone. I want to contribute in any way that I can to breaking the taboos about health, in all forms. We need to encourage and support awareness and discussion about it and that is a issue which effects all genders that all genders can get behind.

Recently I have seen several campaigns online involving Movember. Two that particularly stood out have been hashtags #ManUp and #BoysDoCry which have been used alongside videos and testimonies to promote awareness about men's health (mainly focusing on mental health) and I have been genuinely moved by what I have seen and read. I often see young men around my age struggling because they feel they need to fit into a certain mould of masculinity that damages their self esteem, their body image, their confidence, their physical and mental health. I have heard stories from friends where they have suddenly realised they knew nothing about another male friends well being after the end of a relationship because he just didn't talk about it. He didn't know because "guys just don't talk about that stuff". What I would like to say is, some men may not, but they should feel like they could, and if they actively want to then they can.

Prostate cancer kills 35 men every hour, prostate cancer kills 1 in 20 men and with suicide being so alarmingly high globally, its shocking to know that 3 out of 4 suicides are men. To make that more alarming, if one were to follow statistics that means that one man commits suicide every minute.

If you head over to the Movember web page and read some of the stories on there you will see that often something as simple as talking helps in a way no-one could predict. In order to help men lead happier, healthier and longer lives we need to bring an end to the idea that men can't talk about their health and the idea that they have to look 'strong' at all times.Our fathers, partners, brothers and friends are facing a health crisis and it's not being talked about. As a wider community, we cannot afford to stay silent. Although I know first hand, about the ignorance and taboo around health (mental health in particular) I also know that finally talking about it was one of the most freeing, helpful and life changing steps I ever could have made.

So if you are struggling, if this post has affected you in any way, or is you have a story to share, if you don't feel well, if you are in pain or if something isn't quite right Don't keep it to yourself. Tell your family, tell a friend, tell your GP or check out https://uk.movember.com/mens-health/general and get talking about your health. Ladies, this goes for you too. Your health and your well being should always be top priority. 

Please do leave a comment and share with your friends. Please do tweet me or tag me in photos on Instagram using the hashtags #ManUp and #BoysDoCry. And please do donate some money to the Movember campaign. It is such a worthy cause and helps so many men around the world.

My brother (the chap to the left) is fundraising himself and is growing a mightily fine moustache in order to help get people talking. https://uk.movember.com/mospace/13339753

To see more of my photo's and posts follow me on Twitter and Instagram @Connie_cookie

Thanks, see you soon


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