Troy Murray has been growing from his mustache every November for eight years.
What started as a fun challenge for the 31-year-old and his ice hockey team at Ryerson University in Vancouver became a 2010 Movember Movement.
"I had a mustache with my friends and teammates the previous year to have fun, but did not register funds or raise funds, "said the native Toronto. "I wanted to make amends by training myself and becoming a champion for Movember."
Every November, men across the country participate in Movember, a charity that encourages men to grow their mustaches to raise money for men's health. Movember has been studying prostate cancer in the past and has evolved into a campaign that covers all aspects of a man's well-being, including suicide prevention and mental health.
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And the charity knows how to target its audience. Mitch Hermansen, development director of Movember Foundation, told Global News that the campaign raised $ 17.7 million in 2017. A total of $ 230 million has been raised for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental illness, and psychological illness. Suicide prevention since the founding of the foundation 11 years ago.
"It's important to start a conversation all year round. To ask someone how he is, to check in, if you think that someone is having trouble, and listening are fundamental to the health of men, "said Hermansen.
And there are reasons why people like Murray are up to the challenge.
"Sure, it was easy in the beginning and it's fun to reintroduce the vintage mustache, but the team has taken the right steps to keep men [and women] interested in the campaign, "said Murray.
"As prostate cancer extends to men's health overall and adds the Move for Movember aspect, more and more people are thinking about joining the movement or supporting the cause."
And because he was almost a decade attendee, his Friends, family and colleagues support him every year.
"As a new father, my health is more important than ever. I want to live forever for her. "
Joe Rachert, program manager at the Canadian Men's Health Foundation based in Vancouver, told Global News what he sees in campaigns like Movember or even in campaigns running the foundation, something that appeals to men.
"The biggest one presents something in a friendly, competitive matter," he explained. "Boys do not mind being competitive – that makes Movember great. It's fun and captivating. "
He added that if you want to create a campaign that gets more momentum for men, you need to hug masculinity positively. "Men really want to help when they're given the opportunity," he argued. Men must also be open about their weaknesses.
"This is the side of masculinity we need to see in society. It's okay to talk about it. It's okay to say, "I'm not feeling well today."
It also helps to keep it humorous. Of course, it's not easy to solve all facets of men's health at once, but something as simple as growing a clumsy mustache to raise money can work.
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Anisa Mirza, CEO and co-founder of Giveffect, a Toronto-based donation platform, told Campaign News in 2014 that Movemer's work attracts a younger generation of men who already work with their devices.
Get men to talk seriously about health
For Murray, social media campaigns enable online sharing of stories or concerns that are often accessed by strangers.
"I still believe that there is a stigma for men who talk about health, "he continued. "I know that men are still too stubborn to go to the doctor when they feel sick. They tend to think that as a "man" they should be able to fight through on their own. I hope men will continue to think about what healthy masculinity looks like and will continue to eliminate the stigma. "
Rachert believed we were just beginning a cultural shift in how seriously men take their health. Several studies have shown that men either do not go to their doctors when they should or are not interested in their own health.
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But Rachert said we still have a long way to go, and it will take time for men who take their health more seriously and are their own advocates. "It's not a question of whether [organizations] It's a question of "Can we start?"
This can also be reduced to the generation change. Rachert said that most young men can agree that they see their health differently than their fathers did.
"Being healthy was not part of a guy," he continued, "I was taught to eat a full meal at the dining table, it was fine to have a beer gut, and you did not have to exercise." He said that idea is not always true for young men today – more it wants to be connected to their health.
Keep the momentum
But when a new month starts and the mustaches are cut off, how do we keep the momentum going when talking about men's health? Rachert said it starts with men taking the initiative to support local organizations throughout the year.
From runs to fundraisers to the men in your life, going to the doctor, there are little things that people can do all year round.
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"There are five health behaviors that cause 70 percent of all chronic diseases," he said. It's about smoking, drinking, eating well, moving and sleeping. Focusing on just one of these behaviors and trying to improve it is beneficial on the road.
"Guys have to learn to support each other. We have to get much better. "
– With files by Irene Ogrodnik
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.