If you’ve started seeing more questionable facial hair around recently, it’s probably no coincidence. Yep, Movember is back – the month when a global community of ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sisters’ raise awareness and vital funds for men’s mental health and suicide prevention – as well as prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
Movember has a special place in our hearts here at Contiki. We’ve been proud partners for years, from when we gathered some Mo Bros in Australia’s Blue Mountains to hear their moving personal stories, to when we ran our our Big Mo on campus challenge across the world. And this summer, we sent the 3 winners of that competition, Alex, Zack and Ollie on a Contiki across Europe to reward them for their awesome fundraising efforts.
Why do we do this? Well mostly because it’s a great cause. But also because we genuinely share Movember’s values. Connecting people is what we’re all about. The Contiki community is more important to us than the glitzy destinations and epic experiences. It’s even more important than the food (and that’s saying something).
And in a world where males account for 69% of suicides, connections and communities matter. Put simply, guys just don’t like to share. It starts from a young age (A study of 2,000 children and adolescents found that males were more likely to find discussing their problems with other males as “weird,”). And things only get worse when men graduate and emerge into an increasingly uncertain world.
After I left university, I witnessed a gradual erosion of what was once a tight male friendship group. Careers, relationships, distances in geography, changes in lifestyles…it’s easy for young men to suddenly feel cast adrift. They need spaces where they can connect with other guys; where they’re comfortable sharing their fears, doubts or dreams with people who get it. For some that might be joining a club, picking up a new hobby, or even getting involved with a community like Movember. For me, it was travel.
Dr Geoffrey Greif, author of the Buddy System: Understanding Male Friendships, makes the case that men tend to bond around experiences: “shoulder to shoulder”, instead of “face to face.” When I explored the world solo and met other guys on the road, I realised that initially you do bond “shoulder to shoulder, ” – whether it’s by trying a new activity, tasting new flavours or just putting the world to rights over a few beers. But, as you get to know each other better, the “face to face” conversations always follow. And these are the conversations that matter.
I couldn’t put it any better than Ollie, one of the Mo Bros who explored Europe with us last summer. As he sat in Venice, sipping an Aperol (as you do), he said “It’s great when you travel, because you have a community of guys to feel and speak to each other about something other the usual small talk and work.”
And that’s the point. Travel gives us a space away from the daily grind to open up with people who listen. It gives us community when we can’t find it back home. And through showing us the world in all of its dizzying, vast beauty, it can even put some of our personal problems into perspective.
So we’re proud to partner with Movember. Because whether it’s raising awareness by growing a wispy ‘tache, or giving guys a space where they can connect under the Italian sun, we share their ambitions. We need to change the tide and shift the conversation around men’s mental health. And by working together, year after year, we can hopefully show more men around the world that a simple convo with a bro can do more than raise a smile. It can save a life.