Steve-Rowlands-2014_WEBOver the last eight years or so, at this time of the year, I have used my time off over half term as a chance to get a sneaky start to Movember, in an attempt to get a head start on my colleagues in the moustache growing department.

Movember is a an annual event that started in Adelaide in 1999 in order to raise awareness of men’s health issues, and involves all participants growing a moustache in November. (Hence me starting in October was a definite Unfair Advantage!)

But how can growing a moustache help men’s health?

In short it is an awareness that helps to educate and empower men to take responsibility for their own health.

As a GP it seems iniquitous that women have screening programmes that are hugely beneficial and yet there was nothing in place for screening men’s health.

Movember started with a conversation between friends and it’s a conversation that remains integral to how the Movember Foundation is changing the face of men’s health.

Today, it is just many more conversations. When you count the online and in-person chat that takes place each Movember, it’s literally billions of conversations. These conversations transcend a casual discussion about moustache growth into serious conversations about men’s health.

Does it work?

It has been shown that the Movember campaign is having a positive impact on getting men engaged and thinking about their health and taking preventative action.

  • 99% of participants talked to someone about their health
  • 75% became more aware of the health issues they face
  • 62% had seen or were intending to see a medical professional to get their key personal data checked (blood pressure, cholesterol, waistline, weight)
  • 50% told someone they should take action to improve their health
  • 75% said they were more likely to tell someone they knew to seek professional health if they thought it was needed
  • 1.7 billion conversations were had

So not only should we think about testicular and prostate cancer, which are peculiar to men, but we should all be thinking about lifestyle choices ie diet, smoking, drinking and exercise, all of which can have an impact on all of our long term health issues.

Those of you that have heard me talk will know how I go banging on about personal responsibility and the need for every one of us take control of our health where at all possible

So if anyone you know is starting to sprout hairs around their top lip it will hopefully be with an ulterior motive of not only becoming more aware of their own health but also making you aware of yours and is to be applauded.

As Chairman of this Health organisation, I will be encouraging those of us that can to join in and support Movember and you never know I may yet again try and gain a small advantage next week.