As November rolls on, I am reminded by all the patchy, awkward moustaches of the importance of the Movember movement.
For many people, this means lots of blokes with really bad moustaches and maybe the odd BBQ or a chook raffle to raise money to sponsor those with the really dodgy moustaches. But it begs the question, what is Movember really about? Quite simply, it’s about discussing men’s health, which historically is something blokes haven’t been that great at doing, especially when it comes to our mental health.
Throughout my career, I have seen too many colleagues not speak up until they are in crisis. Stoicism is not the solution; we all need to be comfortable saying I am not ok. The reality is that sometimes life can be hard, and it can become hard unexpectedly and when you least expect it. For me, it came several years ago, during and after a routine cardiac arrest case.
There was nothing particularly out of the ordinary with this case, in fact, clinically, it ran pretty well, but all of a sudden, I found myself struggling with my mental health, crippling anxiety, intrusive thoughts and an awesome ability to catastrophise what might go wrong next.
Fortunately, we have some fantastic support here at AV. I was able to reach out and get some expert care…… that’s when I found out I wasn’t that special and that many of us have similar experiences. Still, we aren’t great at talking about it…….. With the help of the Psychology and wellbeing team, I was back at work soon enough, and now I am doing fine. I check in semi-regularly with my psychologist and manage my mental health.
Perhaps most importantly, I take the opportunity to talk about my experience to reduce the stigma and reinforce the message that it is ok to not be ok and that speaking up and asking for help is the key. It’s pretty staggering how many others I have spoken to have had their own struggles, and their friends and colleagues had no idea.
That’s where the moustaches come in. A conversation just needs to be started, whether that be from a moustache or a drink at a Movember-related social event. Have the conversation, remove the stigma, and if you can raise some funds in the process, that’d be great too.
I grow a terrible moustache, but I’ll give it a go this Movember, nevertheless. I hope you decide to get involved too!