Let’s celebrate the men in our lives who are about to welcome their, as Ned Flanders puts it, ‘nose neighbour’.

Movember celebrates 20 years of its global movement this year.

Every November, men around the world grow out their moustaches for Movember in a bid to bring awareness to men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as to start more conversations around men’s mental health and suicide prevention.

This year, Movember, the leading men’s health organisation, has partnered with the mobility app FREENOW to help raise vital funds, increase awareness, and drive more conversation about men’s health here in Ireland.

A number of Irish male public figures also joined the movement’s launch, including TV presenter and Olympian Greg O’Shea, Love Hate actor John Connors, TV presenter and influencer James Patrice, and model and actor Carl Shaaban.

FREENOW comes into the fold as drivers, as we know all too well, are often the best conversationalists and can be a great listening ear for passengers.

According to research carried out by the taxi hailing service on 1,495 drivers, 15% of respondents say they regularly meet passengers who are experiencing challenges with their mental health, with a further 39% saying they have come across passengers who say they mentally struggle on occasion.

Close to half (46%) of drivers admit that they always talk to their passengers in the car; however, only 12% said mental health and wellbeing come up as a topic of conversation, with small talk around weather, sport, and current affairs being the most talked about subjects.

The most heartwarming finding was that 68% of drivers say that having a chat with a passenger has a positive impact on their own mental health and wellbeing.

However, sadly, 46% of drivers say they don’t talk to anyone about their mental health.

Why Movember is so important?

When we think of the men in our lives—fathers, brothers, sons, partners, friends, and so on—it’s unbearable to think that they may fall victim to any of these health woes or mental issues.

This month shines a light on extremely important topics that, unfortunately, can go unspoken about.

Movember strives to raise vital funds for men’s health projects around the world, challenge the status quo, shake up men’s health research, and transform the way health services reach and support men.

The reality is that suicide is the leading cause of death in men in Ireland between the ages of 15 and 29, with male suicide rates of 14.2 per 100,000 in 2020, according to CSO data.

Over the past 20 years, middle-aged men in Ireland, aged between 45 and 54, have experienced the highest average suicide rate of any age group.

Every year, 170 men in Ireland receive a testicular cancer diagnosis, mostly occurring in men under the age of 45.

Throughout their lifetime, one in eight men in Ireland will be diagnosed with prostate cancer.

These cancers are highly treatable, which is why early detection and awareness of the symptoms are paramount and why Movember is such an important annual event.

The history behind Movember

This annual event was founded by two friends in an Australian pub 20 years ago.

They had a number of goals for the movement: to stop men from dying too young, prioritising funding for three of the biggest health issues affecting men globally, which are mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer, and testicular cancer.

The mission remains the same today as it did in 2003.

Since its inception, Movember has invested over €300 million in 600 biomedical research projects, funded four prostate cancer registries with over 200,000 men enrolled from 19 countries, and made the moustache a must-have accessory for the month of November.

How can I support Movember?

Growing a moustache over the month of November is one way to bring funds and awareness to Movember’s mission.

Look, there’s no hiding a moustache, which is why this event is so poignant. It’s the first thing you’ll see on someone’s face when they are growing one out, and it automatically draws conversation about Movember, albeit some mockery, too.

Anyone who is willing to grow a moustache is encouraged to do so. However, there are other ways to get involved this November.

The public can take part in other Movember’s fundraising challenges, such as walking or running 60 km across the month or hosting a mo-ment to raise awareness for men’s health issues.

Social media can also be a powerful tool in spreading awareness, so ensure to document your mo-journey or show your support online with the hashtag #Movember.

All year-long, encouraging men in your life to open up about their mental health and regularly checking on them, as well as educating ourselves on men’s health issues and motivating men to seek medical advice, can have a monumental impact on raising awareness.

Donations and more information can be made at ie.movember.com.

FREENOW partnership

The mobility app has joined forces with Movember for one year across six countries.

FREENOW, as a result of the partnership, has pledged to donate a minimum of €104,000 to Movember Ireland.

For passengers using the service, there will be a ‘Round Up & Donate’ feature that will donate directly to the organisation.

For example, with the ‘Round Up’ feature turned on, if your trip costs €10.64, then you’ll pay €11, and FREENOW will donate the extra €0.36 directly to Movember.

You’ll see the option to donate when booking your trip; just tap to round up your journey or set it up before booking to ensure the donation is made.