Chichester students Movember movement for men’s mental health  

Thousands of pounds have been raised by students from Chichester to support men facing mental ill health.

Nearly £15,000 was raised by sports societies and clubs from the University in aid of the month-long Movember challenge, bringing the total raised to over £50,000 since 2017. The students, both men and women, also spoke about their own mental health challenges and why it has been important to speak openly about wellbeing in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.

Lead fundraiser Freddie Rainbow, and Students’ Union vice-president, said: “Changing how mental health is viewed has come on tenfold over the last 5 years, however I feel there’s so much more we can all do.  If you spend 5 minutes each day checking up on your mates, the world will be a better place! Remember it’s okay not to be okay.”

Movember, started in 2003, has been tackling the health crisis that is affecting millions of men across the world. They die six years earlier than women on average, and account for 75% of suicides worldwide.

While the movement is not specifically mental health related and rather aims to highlight all health problems face specifically by men, the university students largely chose to focus on the topic they find most pressing to their generation.

University student and female rugby player Lauren Bond (pictured above) said: “Movember is important as it tackles the stigma surrounding men’s mental health head on, shifting the perspective that emotional men are weak. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of bravery. I want men out there to know there is always help available and someone who will listen and care if needed. A problem shared is a problem halved.”

The story of student Tom Pink (above) highlights just why fundraising for Movember is so important: “I struggled with my mental health throughout my teenage years and into adulthood. Growing up with the mainstream media showing us these perfect people with perfect realities and perfect bodies was so tough.

“Who knew that watching reality tv shows could be so harmful to a little 14-year-old me. As a consequence of me idolising so many of these tv stars and influencers it led me to obsess over everything that I was eating and over the way my body looked. This was super unhealthy.

“The skinnier I got the better I thought I looked, which was a dangerous thought process that destroyed any positive mental health I had left. I survived because my mates helped me realise what I was doing to myself was torturous and that I didn’t look healthy. I am still here because my friends reached out to me.”

Each student taking part has their own history behind them – and here are a few of their stories:

Harry Shelley

“There is still this persona that men have about how they have to be ‘macho’ and ‘strong’ but it is ok to talk about these feelings to someone! Your family and friends are here to support you so never be afraid to tell someone how you are really feeling.”

Abbie-May Ervin

“I’m doing Movember this year for all of my male friends that have struggled with their mental health and felt that they couldn’t ask for help. There is so much stigma around the area and I want to keep raising awareness that mental health affects everyone; no matter of age, gender, ethnicity, nothing.”

Tom Whittenbury

“My motivation for Movember is to raise awareness for how we deal with how we are feeling as too many men don’t open up and struggle to cope.”

Lewis Slaughter

My motivation for participating in Movember is providing the opportunity for conversations within mental health to occur. Mental health should be a forefront of people’s priorities, and this is a great platform to initiate this.

Oliver Butler

“My motivation for Movember is for dads, brothers and sons everywhere to know they aren’t alone.”

Ellie Lewis

“To me Movember means taking the time to learn how to check yourself and taking the time to check in with friends. Movember will always be particularly important to me, growing up seeing the impact that testicular cancer can have, I hope every man finishes the month knowing what help & resources are available to them. Nobody has to face this on their own.”

Dom Taylor

“Movember means a lot to me because I have struggled with my mental health; I love this charity because it raises awareness for everyone.”

Lacey Franklyn

“As a female I want to do all I possibly can to raise awareness for men’s health, to break the stigma on men’s mental health, and to fundraise within the cheerleading society to raise money for world-class men’s health projects.”

Matthew Lane

“Mental health is something I’ve had personal struggles with in recent years, and it’s the support of the people closest to me that pulled me through! Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.”

Becky Haywood

“Men’s mental health is not a big topic of conversation so I want men to know that there are all these people who are there ready to support even if it’s just a chat. Taking part in Movember it is a great way to show my support.”

For those affected by this story and who want to help, please visit the students’ Movember fundraising page, or read more on the Movember website.

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