A simple idea, hatched between friends over a few drinks at an Australian beer garden in 2003, has since grown into a leading charitable organization that has shaken up the way people approach men’s health. The Movember Foundation has helped to fund research and raise awareness for men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. The NHL has had a profound impact on this movement by leveraging its high profile and bringing Movember to the forefront of sports culture.
During November every year, men are encouraged to join the movement by signing up at movember.com and growing moustaches to “Change the face of men’s health” in order to raise money for the foundation. Those contributions originally funded prostate cancer research exclusively, but the Movember foundation has since expanded to combat testicular cancer and men’s mental health issues. The increased focus on mental health aims to combat the added stigma that men face in discussing mental illness. It’s unfortunately rare for men to take action on their health issues—both mental and physical—so the Movember Foundation also works to proactively instill healthy habits in their lives.
The NHL has provided Movember with one of its largest platforms to promote the cause. In 2007, now-retired Anaheim Ducks forward George Parros brought the movement to the NHL. While still a Ducks player, Movember Foundation cofounder Adam Garone approached him about getting involved when the campaign reached North America. Since then, the movement has picked up steam. Today, it is commonplace for players to grow fresh moustaches during the month. Brendan Gallagher of the Montreal Canadiens has become a proponent for the campaign since he lost his grandfather to prostate cancer. Whole teams have taken the movement in stride too, with the New Jersey Devils and the Columbus Blue Jackets each raising more than $10,000 this year.
Hockey players are considered some of the toughest athletes in all of sports, and their perceived super-human status makes them strong role models for other Movember participants. Movember’s strength lies in its accessibility and power to unite—these issues affect all men, and fans, coaches, referees, managers, and trainers alike have grown moustaches in support of the cause.
Growing a moustache in November can prompt conversations about men’s health. It engages men in talking about the health issues that they face and has made them more knowledgeable and comfortable talking about how they feel. NHL players help promote these healthy habits by increasing the visibility of the movement, thereby funding the research that could inspire lasting solutions to men’s health problems.
As the month of November comes to an end, the focus on health issues should not. Making this commitment to raise money for prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s mental health programs should continue throughout the year. The NHL does a fantastic job in promoting this issue, but all men should take these five actions: Stay connected with friends, reach out to others who need help, be open with someone, know when to get tested for prostate cancer, see a doctor if something doesn’t feel right, and add more physical activity to their day. These tenets can be found on the Movember website, alongside many other helpful links.
To date, Movember has raised nearly $900 million for various men’s health causes, and its momentum doesn’t appear to be slowing. So, to all those who choose to support men’s health issues through growing or donating: Happy Movember!