MOvember 23

Mike Allan with no facial hair.

Raising Awareness, not Money

It’s been a couple of years since I last took on the Movember challenge. Back in the days at SapientNitro, we had an incredible team that passionately supported this cause every November. However, after the acquisition by Publicis and the whole MadMen rebranding phase, that team spirit waned, and so did my own enthusiasm. The pandemic didn’t help either—when you’re stuck at home, it’s easy to wonder if growing a Mo even matters.
But this year, something changed.

My encounters with mental health issues, both my own and those affecting others, inspired me to participate again. This time, I wanted to focus on Men’s Mental Health. Unfortunately, there exists a widespread reluctance among many men to openly address their mental health concerns.

Why men find it challenging to broach the subject of their mental well-being

  1. Social Expectations: Society often places a heavy burden on men, expecting us to epitomize strength, stoicism, and self-reliance. Consequently, many men grapple with the pressure to adhere to traditional masculine ideals, making them hesitant to express vulnerability or seek help for their mental health.

  2. Stigma: A significant stigma still surrounds mental health, and this can be particularly daunting for men. Fears of being labelled as weak or ‘less of a man’ often deter them from acknowledging emotional or psychological struggles.

  3. Fear of Judgement: Men frequently have concerns about how they’ll be perceived by their peers, family members, or colleagues if they disclose their mental health challenges. This fear of judgment results in silence.

  4. Lack of Awareness: Some men may not possess a comprehensive understanding of mental health issues, or they might struggle to recognize the signs and symptoms. This lack of awareness can obstruct their path to seeking help or discussing their experiences.

  5. Coping Mechanisms: Over time, many men develop coping mechanisms that involve suppressing or avoiding their emotions. These strategies can make it arduous to open up about their mental health.

  6. Self-Reliance: The prevalent notion that men should independently tackle their problems can lead them to resist reaching out for support, even when it’s desperately needed.

  7. Cultural Factors: One’s cultural background and upbringing play a substantial role in shaping their approach to mental health. In certain cultures, discussing emotions and mental well-being openly may be less customary or even discouraged.

I don’t like to use general terms. However, it’s crucial to underscore that not all men face these barriers, and attitudes toward men’s mental health are gradually evolving. Numerous organizations and individuals are dedicated to challenging these stereotypes and fostering candid conversations about mental health among men. The key lies in creating a safe, nurturing and non-judgmental environment where men feel comfortable discussing their mental health, thus dismantling these barriers and encouraging them to seek the support they may require.

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