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Jeremy Macvean Unmute – Ask him Interview

Jeremy Macvean Unmute – Ask him Interview

Leading men's health charity the Movember Foundation is helping to ignite potentially life-saving conversations through their Unmute – Ask him campaign.

In addition to funding more than 1,200 innovative men's health projects across 21 countries focused on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention, the Foundation is also shedding light on the role of men's support networks – family, friends and partners – who can help men to remain mentally well through practicing active listening and maintaining social connections.

Live as of September 7, Unmute – Ask him signals the start of a month-long campaign by Movember to encourage open conversations around men's mental health as a way to ultimately reduce the high rate of male suicide.

Disguised as a series of how-to videos where a man takes the viewer through simple tasks, such as -Make a soda can fishing rod,' -Never run out of a gas again with this simple trick and 'Fix a Flat' – each video demonstrates the importance of taking the initiative to ask men how they are doing, and not just assuming everything is O.K.

While the video subtitles appear to mirror the men's actions, when the viewer unmutes, they'll hear a completely different story – about men who are beginning to show signs they are struggling.

'Our research has shown that a majority of men say they are there for their friends when they need support, yet considerably fewer men are prepared to go to someone when they're struggling themselves – bringing to life the need for those around men to take themselves off -mute' and start the conversation," says Craig Martin, Global Director, Mental Health & Suicide Prevention at the Movember Foundation.

'As part of our strategic vision to support men and boys being mentally healthy and taking action during tough times, backed by their friends, family and community, Movember is building capacity around men, to ensure more men talk and feel the benefits of being heard," he said.

'The network around men currently do not reach out enough to ask how guys are really going. We can all play a part in reducing the rate of male suicide by sparking a potentially life-changing conversation – the simple first step is just to ask and listen."

As well as encouraging people to share the Unmute – Ask him campaign videos on social media, Movember also wants people to start conversations with men they care about in just four simple steps:

Ask how they are doing
Listen without judgement
Encourage action
Check in regularly

The Movember Foundation's suicide prevention campaign is a key strategic element of their goal to reduce the rate of male suicides by 25%, and ultimately, the number of men dying prematurely by 25%, by 2030.

To learn more about how you can effectively help the men in your life open up and to view and share the Unmute – Ask him videos visit www.movember.com/iwanttoask.

The Movember Foundation is the only global charity focused solely on men's health, funding over 1,200 innovative projects across 21 countries. To date, they have raised hundreds of millions for men's health programs supporting these critical areas: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Go to Movember.com to donate or participate.

Globally and locally, the Movember Foundation is making progress with mental health and suicide prevention projects, in collaboration with local men's health partners, to reach men all over the world and promote healthy actions and behaviours. These initiatives include:

Making Connections (US)

NewAccess (AUS)

Like Father Like Son (AU)
Farmstrong (NZ)
MAN/ART/ACTION Tribute Pole (CA)
Social Innovations Challenge (UK, AUS, CA)

Launching this September, 13 projects across three countries will take a range of innovative approaches to help men build and maintain quality social connections and a sense of belonging, in order to reduce the risk of social isolation and loneliness.


Interview with Jeremy Macvean, Movember Health Promotion Consultant

Jeremy has always been passionate about the power of communication to drive positive change. Following a career working at advertising agencies and in marketing and digital roles within media companies, he joined Movember as Regional Director, Asia Pacific in 2003. After a few years of moustache farming, Jeremy's role with Movember is now focused on managing year round global health promotion campaigns in suicide prevention, cancer awareness and challenging harmful masculine stereotypes. Jeremy grew up in a family of all-male siblings, so he understands first-hand what's great about men, plus where issues can be encountered. He's the proud father of three girls, which might seem odd for a guy who's so passionately dedicated to men's health, but he does this based on the assumption that his daughters' worlds are better if he's alive, happy and healthy. That's why he wants to stop men dying too young.


Question: Can you tell us about the Unmute – Ask him campaign?

Jeremy Macvean: The Unmute – Ask him campaign is the start of a month-long campaign by Movember to encourage open conversations around men's mental health.

Disguised as a series of how-to videos where a man takes the viewer through simple tasks, such as -Make a soda can fishing rod,' -Never run out of a gas again with this simple trick' and 'Fix a Flat' – each video demonstrates the importance of taking the initiative to ask men how they are doing, and not just assuming everything is O.K.

While the video subtitles appear to mirror the men's actions, when the viewer unmutes, they'll hear a completely different story – about men who are beginning to show signs they are struggling.


Question: What do you hope to achieve from the Unmute – Ask him campaign?

Jeremy Macvean: We know guys can be reluctant to open up and ask for help. With the Unmute – Ask him campaign, we are looking to give the go-to people around men the capability to start those really important conversations, and the confidence to reach out and ask men if they are okay.

By sparking these important conversations, we are aiming to improve men's mental health and ultimately reduce the high rate of male suicide.


Question: How can we encourage conversation into men's mental health?

Jeremy Macvean: The first step in looking out for a man, is asking him how he's doing. Then just listen. Don't try to diagnose his problems, offer solutions or give advice – as counter-intuitive as it seems, he might just need some help in telling his story. Take what he says seriously, and don't judge him or how he's reacting to whatever's going on in his life. There's a few simple things you can do to encourage him to keep talking. Try nodding, asking open-ended questions, or asking about things he's said.

Having a time and place in mind can also help guys feel more comfortable. For example, some guys find it easier to talk while they're doing something, whether it's a shared hobby or just watching TV.


Question: Can you suggest some conversation starters?

Jeremy Macvean: 'I've noticed that you're not going out with us much at the moment. Is everything OK?"
'You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?"
'You're looking pretty tired. Are you getting much sleep?"
'I saw your Facebook post and I'm a bit worried about you. Do you have time for a chat?"
'You seem a bit stressed these days. Is anything up?"

To delve a little deeper, try one of these:
'Being a dad must be a pretty big deal. How are things going with the kids?" 'How are things at home?"
'Work sounds tough at the moment. Does it feel that way for you?"

Get all the resources at: www.movember.com/iwanttoask


Question: What signs and symptoms should we look for in men who may be struggling?

Jeremy Macvean: There are several key indicators that a man may be struggling. If he is doing less of what he enjoys, has missed important social events, is not turning up for work appears tired or is less interested in his health or clothes and appearance or – you should reach out to him and ask if he's okay.

If he gets easily angered, irritated and distracted or starts showing self-destructive behaviours like drinking more, using drugs, or taking more risks in life this can also be a warning sign that he may be going through a rough patch.


Question: Why are men not easily able to express how they are really feeling?

Jeremy Macvean: Men sometimes aren't comfortable reaching out, or think it might be a burden on their friends. Movember-funded research has shown that a majority of men (70%) say they are there for their friends when they need support, yet considerably fewer men (48%) are prepared to go to someone when they're struggling themselves.

So, while we've found that while men are willing to talk, they often feel like they aren't being heard. This is why we are trying to reach the network around men to provide that prompt for the men in their lives, to ask how they are really going and to let them know that it is okay not to be okay.


Question: What advice do you have ahead of Movember?

Jeremy Macvean: Conversations about men's health aren't limited to the hairy month of Movember. You can't fix someone else's problems, but you can be there for them. Sometimes listening is the most helpful thing you can do. You won't make things worse by asking how he's doing.


Question: Where do funds raised from Movember go?

Jeremy Macvean: Globally, funds raised go towards supporting innovative world-class men's health programs supporting these critical areas: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health & suicide prevention. We've been investing in mental health and suicide prevention programs since 2006, funding over 135 initiatives in that time.

In the Australian mental health space, Movember has invested heavily in the newly launched Social Innovators Challenge which will develop, pilot and evaluate 5 innovative projects to restore and strengthen the social connections of men, particularly those who are at greater risk of becoming socially isolated.



Question: How can men sign up for Movember?

Jeremy Macvean: Getting involved is easy. Simply sign up at Movember.com and fundraise by:
Growing a Moustache
Taking the Move Challenge and get active
Hosting an event
Making a donation


Interview by Brooke Hunter



 

 



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