Movember: Raising awareness and funds for men's health through facial hair

beard, facial hair
Posted at 7:14 AM, Nov 04, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - In November, some guys grow their mustaches and beards.

But for years, one organization has been using this to raise awareness for men's health.

It's called "Movember."

“Anything that can bring awareness to men's health is a good thing,” Dr. Josh Langston, chief medical officer for Urology of Virginia told News 3.

For years, Dr. Langston’s focus has been on men’s health.

“There's a lot that flies under the radar,” Dr. Langston said. “Guys aren't the best at taking care of themselves, and we're as a society not always the best at thinking about men and the issues that come up.”

This November is about to get a little hairier for him and other doctors.

“It's all about the conversation, really,” Langston said.

Movember started in Australia in 2003.

READ: News 3's Movember Team Page to raise awareness for men's health

“A simple concept of getting guys to grow mustaches and have a conversation,” Movember Foundation U.S. Executive Director Mark Hedstrom told News 3.

Since then, the group has spread to 20 countries worldwide, raised more than $1 billion and funded more than 1,250 men's health programs.

Their focus is on awareness of mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.

“There's been a public health crisis in men's health for over 20 years,” Hedstrom said.

“We want to reduce the suicide rate alongside other partners in the U.S.,” Hedstrom added. “We're playing catch-up when it comes to prostate and testicular cancer when it comes to raising awareness and finding the treatments that help men and navigating them to a better place.”

The cause is personal for J.D. MacKnight, a Movember Student Ambassdor at Virginia Tech.

“I always challenge people to think about someone in their life that they care about that is a man that may be struggling,” MacKnight said. “I learned that my grandpa passed away from prostate cancer, so I realized it kind of hit a little closer to home than I really thought.”

For Dr. Langston, it's also about local resources like their men's health center.

“Just getting guys in the door, trying to break down those barriers, make it a place where men can feel comfortable to go and be seen for whatever it is that's going on with them,” he said. “The impact of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and from the mental health side - even suicide rates skyrocketing among American men - this is something that is very serious.”

Whether it's mental health, prostate cancer or testicular cancer, November will mean growing facial hair for funds, and creating more “Mo's” for more conversations.

“How do we take action for each other? How do we show up for the other men in our lives when they're struggling?” Hedstrom said.

“It's OK to not be OK,” Hedstrom added. “It's OK to know something is happening to you and to reach out and have a conversation with someone. Whether that's a friend, a family member [or] potentially a clinician.”