The Movember foundation is the leading global charity dedicated to changing the face of men’s health. Advocates grow a ‘Mo’ to raise funds for the delivery of innovative research and support programs, enabling men to live a healthier, happier, and longer life.
QRGP trainee Dr Fraser McBean is an advocate for Movember, growing his ‘facial caterpillar’ for the 7th year in a row. Fraser’s interest in men’s health started early on when his dad (in his 40’s) was treated for testicular cancer. Fraser’s dad fully recovered, and his interest in men’s health continues to grow. Fraser shares his insights into the importance of men’s health and how you can help improve the lives of men around you.
The importance of Movember
Men, in general, are not the best at prioritising and looking after their health (myself included). Movember is a great opportunity to highlight awareness and raise money for a worthy cause that impacts half the population. Men worldwide have a lower life expectancy than women by 4.5 years, and their health suffers from largely preventable causes. A growing number of men, approximately 10.8million globally, are facing life with a prostate cancer diagnosis and testicular cancer is now the most common cancer among young men. Global statistics show that one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 69% of total suicides. Movember is a timely reminder to start conversations with men around these preventable health issues.
Men’s Health in Rural areas
Australian men living in rural and remote areas shouldn’t suffer poorer health outcomes just because they live in the bush, but sadly, they often do. In community general practice, I have been struck by the obstacles a lot of men face when it comes to looking after their health. There are challenges at every turn for some blokes, alcohol, smoking, poor nutrition, gambling, and mental health challenges. Plus, the physical health considerations like bowel, prostate, and testicular cancer. Men shouldn’t have to (and don’t have to) face these issues alone. Whether they live in the city, or in the country, men need to be empowered to look after themselves and seek help when they need it.
On top of the normal challenges men face, men living in rural locations often deal with inadequate access to healthcare, social and geographical isolation, and the mental health challenges that arise from life on the land, such as times of drought or flood. A Rural Generalist can give men in these areas a trusted local doctor who knows them, their family, and community, and understands their whole picture and what they might be going through. It’s a good reminder to continue building strong relationships with our patients, so they feel safe accessing the care they need.
Making changes toward better health outcomes
Making healthy lifestyle choices are the most valuable thing we can do. Primary prevention of a disease is better than any cure. Rural men are typically quite stoic and don’t necessarily prioritise their health. The changes we need to implement to create a healthier lifestyle can be obvious, but they aren’t necessarily easy to achieve.
The Movember website itself hosts great tools for men to monitor their mental health, how to have tricky conversations with friends who are struggling, how to spot the early signs of prostate cancer, and the importance of self-checking for testicular cancer.
Men should be encouraged and empowered to seek out help from their local GP, without fear of embarrassment or judgment.
How you can help
Donating to the Movember foundation during the month of November can help make a big difference, even if some of the moustaches are rather unsightly. But the conversation around men’s health shouldn’t be limited to November or a financial donation. Mo-tivate (excuse the pun) fathers, brothers, sons, and mates in your life to take charge of their health, make healthy decisions, and visit their GP for support and help when they need it.
Dr Fraser McBean
QRGP Trainee, Goondiwindi