Cardiff SU raises awareness for male mental health with new #AlrightMate? campaign

Movember Foundation: The charity supporting men with both physical illness and suicide prevention. Source: Wikimedia Commons

By Anna Dutton

As we enter December, talk of advent calendars, Christmas shopping and mince pies is beginning to consume many people’s time. With the emphasis placed upon families and friends spending time together, emphasis is also placed on moral support from those around us. This is something which last month, the Movember campaign endeavoured to raise awareness of, focussing specifically on providing support for male mental and physical health. As we enter the festive season, it’s the perfect opportunity to reflect on this year’s campaign.

The Movember campaign hopes to tackle problems facing men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. According to the Movember website, by 2030 they want to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%. Since 2003, the website states they have funded over 1,250 men’s health projects globally to help as many men as possible, as well as individuals raising awareness of the charity by growing a moustache throughout November and encouraging people to donate.

Across Cardiff University, many students took part in the Movember campaign. Speaking to Gair Rhydd, one student, Reece Chambers, said:

“I decided to get involved with the Movember Campaign this year to raise more awareness for male mental health. Despite the increase in awareness, it’s really important to continue that throughout the year and not forget about it after November. For a lot of men, it’s hard to open up and talk about their feelings. So getting involved was a no-brainer to improve awareness within my social circle.”

In keeping with the charity’s involvement with suicide prevention, Cardiff University Students’ Union (SU) launched a new campaign called #AlrightMate? this year following International Men’s Day to raise awareness of the high suicide rate amongst men. According to a Tweet from the Students’ Union, suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45, and just in the United Kingdom, 84 men take their own life every week.

The aim of their #AlrightMate? campaign is to alleviate some of the stigma people experience when talking openly about their mental health as well as making individuals aware of the student services available for those who are suffering. James Wareham, VP Welfare and Campaigns, told Gair Rhydd: “#AlrightMate this year was a huge success!” and stated that as an individual who has experienced mental health difficulties, “breaking down the stigma around mental health for all age groups is very important, but in many ways it is especially so for men.”

Wareham continued: “We also put an emphasis on engaging student groups in the campaign, and various sports clubs and societies have raised awareness of these issues with their members using our resources and social media…I’m excited for the campaign to be trying new things and increasing the number of people who engage with it every year. We may even be back with it in the second semester.”

As well as this campaign, the Union provides other support services such as wellbeing workshops that are taking place over the coming weeks, different support groups such as Eat Well, Cardiff Night-line, Student Minds, Talk it Out, and Mind your Head. If you would like any further information about these services head to the SU website.

The Movember campaign ultimately emphasises the importance of being open and discussing how you are feeling, whether that is physically unwell or mentally unwell. In 2018, Movember reported that they raised over £10 million in the UK and allocated 73.2% of those funds towards men’s mental health projects. Across 20 countries, Movember reported that nearly 322,000 individuals took part in the campaign, raising £57.6 million overall. It is not yet known how much money was raised in 2019.

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