It is high time men in Serbia stopped feeling ‘OK about not being OK’ – and got real about both their mental and physical health.
Moustaches have been a staple of Serbian masculinity since the beginning of modern Serbia. Photo: WikimedaCommons / Vladimir Borovikovsky
One dreary, rainy November in London seven years ago I decided to put my upper lip to the ultimate test of growing a moustache. My motivation went beyond the increasing trendiness of retro facial hair among UK hipsters: I was starting off in a management consulting firm which prided itself on its devotion to charity and quirkiness, and decided to be part of their Movember team, because the idea sounded cool and worth the occasional snide comment about my new looks.
Since it began in 2004 in Australia, Movember was first a movement, and then a foundation, set on spreading the word that men need to be more concerned and open about their health and also investing in medical research focused on men’s health.
It initially set its sights on physical ailments affecting men, such as prostate and testicular cancer, but as the movement grew, it spread to other problems, most notably depression and other mental health issues.
With every year that I joined my company’s team, Movember mattered to me more: not only because the crowd was fun and we were successful at raising funds, but because I felt it was important to have a movement which spoke in a fun, open way about mental health.
In London’s fast-paced corporate circles, brimming with brilliant ambitious youngsters, honest talk of work-induced stress and the myriad health problems it causes, was and still is, a taboo, especially among men.
As Movembers progressed in my career, I became increasingly conscious that people close to me had quite a few brushes with depression and anxiety. On a personal level, I became more aware of the harmful effects of stress on my health, and Movember’s attempts to de-stigmatise these issues made me readier to admit and tackle my own problems.