You have probably noticed the beard growing trend during the month november called ‘Movember’. The aim is to grow a moustache and raise awareness around men’s health issues, such as prostate and testicular cancer, mental health and suicide. More than 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year and more than 5.4 million men are living with it, thanks to proper information before, during and after being diagnosed. At the same time, men’s mental health is still a silent crisis. Every minute of the day, a man dies because of suicide. Keeping in mind that, based on a study of Washington’s institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, Muslim countries have the highest rates of suicide, murder, rape and mental health problems, it is important to discuss these issues within our communities.
He was a sinful man
Mental health issues among Muslims, and in particular men, are being ignored too many times, due to a mix of male stereotypes and old traditions. It is generally difficult for Muslims to open up about mental health issues, because we are told too often that we should ‘pray our issues away’, that the sickness ‘is a test from god’ or ‘our issues are due to a lack of faith’.
Think about your own personal experience. Have you ever heard your dad, granddad, brother or cousin speak about his mental health, or even mention about how he feels from the inside? Unfortunately, it is still perceived as a very delicate topic, that doesn’t get the attention that it deserves.
Suicide prevention and “being possessed by the devil”
I remember how people in my environment reacted on the news that a close friend of our family, a Muslim man, committed suicide. Instead of speaking about the problems and issues the man faced, people started to say things like “he was possessed by the devil”, as if that makes mental health issues such as depression disappear.
After my parents divorced, it all went downhill for my father. He struggled a lot and his mental health suffered enormously because of it. He takes medication and gets advised to sleep more, but he never gets referred to a psychologist, as if being in a physically healthy body is the only thing that matters.
Awareness and Acceptance
Recently, there has been more and more awareness on women-related health issues and I can’t applaud that enough! I hope that we can have the same evolution on men’s health issues. Men, too, should become more aware of their own bodies and mental health. It is not okay to tell men to just “man up”, when they feel bad, or that real men don’t cry. Men who regularly visit doctors and take their health serious aren’t ‘pussy’s’, but admirable!
That’s why I love initiatives such as Movember, that specifically shed light on men’s well-being and combine a serious topic with a fun twist to it.
Everyone loves moustaches, but when it’s in combination with saving lives, by informing and educating people, it’s even more lovely! So; Grow a mo and stop men from dying so young!