“We should all talk more openly about men’s health”
Every year in November, men around the world grow moustaches or forgo shaving altogether. The penultimate month of the year is meant to draw attention to a topic that is still talked about far too little: Men’s health. To offer a protected space for exchange, we have therefore organised a virtual “Movember” panel.
Movember is a portmanteau of the words moustache (short form: mo) and November. The term stands for a fundraising campaign that originated in Australia and was launched in 2003. Over the past 20 years, a small idea has grown into a global happening in which men grow moustaches to set an example for men’s health. The campaign is primarily about raising money for research and treatment of physical and mental illnesses.
A similar campaign comes from the USA and is called “No Shave November”. A small difference to Movember: it is not about a moustache, but a full beard. Men refrain from buying shaving products and barber visits for one month and donate the money saved to institutions that benefit prostate and testicular cancer research and treatment. In addition to raising funds, both campaigns have another important goal: to encourage men to talk more openly about preventive check-ups and mental health issues.
A total of nine male Spexies from different positions in the company gathered in two panels (one in German, one in English) and brought different perspectives on the topic of men’s health. They talked openly and honestly about how men find it difficult to talk about health problems with colleagues, especially in the work context. Even in 2022, there are many narratives in the professional environment that are shaped by the supposedly strong male figure, for whom traits such as weaknesses and feelings are often figments of the imagination. The reality is different. “By modern masculinity, I mean that I let my colleagues know when I’m not feeling well,” said one panellist, adding: “We should all talk more openly about men’s health.”
One of these taboo topics is cancer screening. The older men get, the higher the chance of being diagnosed with cancer. Prostate and testicular cancer are particularly common. A preventive check-up is therefore not only important for one’s own conscience, but also for the employer, a panel participant from our HR department confirmed: “From a purely economic point of view, it does not hurt us as a company if a man cannot work for two hours in between because of a preventive check-up. In the case of a serious illness with a long course, the situation is logically different. That’s why I’m appealing to you: go to the doctor, and do it early.”
In addition to cancer, Movember also focuses on mental illnesses such as depression and burnout. Some of the panellists had already been affected by these themselves. They all agreed on one thing: when men confide in their colleagues, their work becomes easier: “Communication is the most important thing. No one can look inside other people and guess how the other person is really doing. When I confided in other people, my work became easier again and I no longer had to play a role,” said one panel member: “This room here is already a start. If even one person walks out of here encouraged to talk about their problems, we’ve already won.”
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