Movember Supports Mental Health

Men have become used to growing interesting facial hair during November to raise funds for men’s cancers. Now, the organisation behind the mustache-growing challenge is tackling another taboo – mental health.

Movember founder Zephyr Jussa likens men to cars.

“They need regular servicing, and if you don’t look after them they end up broken.”

The statistic that really shocked Zephyr is that 77% of suicides in the UK are male. Every day, an average of 12 men decide to end their lives.

And the problem is not confined to adults. Eleven per cent of boys aged between five and 16 have been diagnosed with a mental health problem.

Zephyr was one of those boys. When he was just 15 he realised he was suffering from depression.

After his parent’s divorce when he was 6 and his mother becoming increasingly ill and turning to alcohol to deal with her own depression, Zephyr’s relationship with his mother deteriorated.

When Zephyr’s mother died in 2008, he had not spoken to her for several months, and the guilt and anguish overwhelmed him.

“I wasn’t really living – I was just functioning. I was spending hours in bed and I felt constantly distraught, trapped, lost at sea,” he says.

He struggled on for four years until, at 20, he was “constantly thinking of ways to end it all”.

Finally, he sought treatment and spent six months in therapy with other young men with similar problems. It was a revelation.

“I learnt that it’s fine to talk about what you feel and what you are going through.”

“I want to use my experience to help others. I’ve told all my university friends and I’ve even brought up my problems in lectures.

“As a young male, it’s OK to have a mental illness and share things. It’s not something to be ashamed of.”

So what started as a fun movement to save the lives of men affected by prostate and testicular cancer in Melbourne 11 years ago, is now encouraging men to talk about mental health and how they really feel.