Movember- Ditching the razor to support awareness on men’s health issues
06 November 2018| 27 Safar 1440| Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed
November has over the years become well known as Movember. It is a month in the year when men lose the razor blades and grow a mustache in a bid to support the awareness campaign around prostate and testicular cancer.
According to Garron Gsell chief executive and founder of the Movember office South Africa, the idea for Movember was started in the year 2003.
“Movember originated in 2003 when a bunch of mates in Australia were talking about fashion icons that hadn’t made a return. The bell-bottoms made a return and a couple of funky hairstyles but the moustache hadn’t. So they decided to grow a moustache and come together at the end of the month to celebrate,” Gsell said.
The concept has become a fundraiser in 21 countries investing in over 1200 programs changing the lives of men suffering with prostate testicular cancer and male mental health issues.
Men are often hesitant to get checked for health issues however having an initiative like Movember has been instrumental in encouraging the need for men to take a more serious stance around issues of their health.
“Prostate cancer is the leading cancer affecting men. When we started the campaign in 2009 in South Africa, there was a 1 in 26 chance of men getting prostate cancer. Recent figures show that it is now 1 in 19 men at risk,” Gsell explained.
Research indicates that the need for awareness in imperative as more and more men are at risk of the disease.
Below are some of the signs indicating the possibility of the disease:
o The urgency to urinate frequently mostly at night
o Burning or painful urination
o Difficulty to start urinating or holding back
o Difficulty in erection and painful ejaculation
o Blood in urine or semen
“When it comes to screening, research shows men were not aware of the risk, harm and prevalence of prostate cancer. They didn’t know that once you reach the age of 40-45 you should do a yearly check up to know the state of your prostate. But when it comes to mental health issues men just don’t really talk about the possibility of them suffering from depression. And often that leads to isolation.”
As much Movember has gained momentum in raising the alert on prostate and testicular cancer and the need to get men talking about mental health issues. October commemorated mental health awareness month. Statistics according to AfricaCheck reveal that 14 men of all ages die from suicide daily.
At the same time a recent study shows that depression affects one in four South African employees. This study was conducted by the South African Depression and Anxiety group (SADAG) in partnership with Hexor with the support of Lundbeck.
Awareness campaigns like Movember are crucial to make a noise around the issue of men’s health. We have been rocked this year with suicide deaths by prominent men.
In July this year cardiologist Professor Bongani Mayosi committed suicide after a struggle with depression sparking the much needed discussion on mental health issues.
The latest causality of the silent killer was local entertainer Jabulani “HHP” Tsambo who died on October 24th after many years of struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. SADAG has revealed that it is receiving volumes of calls from people who feel “helpless‚ hopeless and desperate” and in need of help for depression and suicide.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: “Whoever is afflicted with grief or anxiety, then he should pray with these words, ‘Oh Allāh, certainly I am your slave, the son of your male slave and the son of your female slave. My forehead is in Your Hand. Your Judgment upon me is assured and Your Decree concerning me is just. I ask You by every Name that you have named Yourself with, revealed in Your Book, taught any one of Your creation or kept unto Yourself in the knowledge of the unseen that is with You, to make the Qurān the spring of my heart, and the light of my chest, the banisher of my sadness and the reliever of my distress.’”
For help around depression and mental health issues contact:
SADAG Helpline: 011 234 4837
Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567
For assistance and information on prostate cancer visit
WRITTEN BY: NAJMA BIBI NOOR MOHAMED
Najma Bibi Noor Mahomed is a journalist currently producing and hosting the afternoon show On The Pulse. Formally from Durban and having lived in both Cape Town and now Johannesburg has given her deep insight into people. Najma uses her experience with the different communities to write up dramatic sketches. In her spare time she reads memes and cooks up a storm.