Fight Loneliness & Reach Out to a Mate Today on May 8 with Movember

While May the fourth may lend itself to one of the world’s most irksome sci-fi related puns, May the eighth incidentally becomes a very Australian idiom when pronounced just the right way, and with much more noble intent than blokes named Luke wielding lightsabers.

MAYEIGHT (maaaaaaaate) is the Movember Foundation‘s mid-year push (yes, they operate all year round), and the premise is simple: catch up with a mate.

Crack a tinnie, go for a fish, kick the pigskin around, see a film, go camping, sing sea shanties; whatever takes your fancy. Just do it with another bloke about whom you care today.

It’s really important, and here’s why: we don’t do it enough.

Did you know that the biggest killer for men in this country aged between 18 and 45 is suicide? Or that one in five men aged between 18 and 24 claims that they wouldn’t have anyone to turn to if they were going through a tough time?

Everybody has bad days, but are we, as men in a society, doing enough for each other when times are good, so that the support network is there when things go bad? According to this writer, armed with statistics: no.

When Movember surveyed 500 Australian men recently, some deeply worrying facts came out. One third said that they hadn’t made any new friendships in the past two years. Nearly half said that they didn’t get to spend enough time with their current friends.

When probed on when they needed their mates the most, most needed the support of their mates while going through a mental or physical health issue (27 per cent). This was followed by major life changes like the breakdown of a relationship (21 per cent), losing a loved one (9 per cent), losing their job (8 per cent) or becoming a dad (6 per cent).

This, from the land that invented the very concept of mateship. It’s the backbone of all our greatest stories, and something we unashamedly celebrate every ANZAC Day.

Brendan Maher, Global Director of Mental Health & Suicide Prevention at the Movember Foundation said: “It’s not just older men who are at risk of becoming socially isolated or lonely. Even young men – who on the surface may appear to be more connected – can struggle to maintain relationships with their mates.

“There’s a high chance you have a mate who is feeling lonely or isolated, but isn’t letting on that he’s struggling,” he continued. “This May 8, we’re urging men to step up, put some solid plans in the diary and set themselves the challenge of talking about the stuff that really matters with a mate.

“It’s a great excuse to reconnect with an old mate and can work wonders to strengthen your friendship with a potential new mate.”

And here’s the thing: this is probably not new information to the majority of you reading this right now. But the statistics don’t lie, and while we as men have long been armed with such information, it’s the acting on it where we falter.

So, in aid of getting everybody excited about being the best bloke around, Movember has provided some facts about how men communicate:

  • Less than a third of men (28 per cent) prefer to pick up the phone, compared with 70 per cent of guys who choose to keep in touch via social media or text.
  • More than half of men aged 65+ prefer to pick up the phone to keep in touch with their mates – compared with 17 per cent of those aged 18-24.
  • More than half of men aged 18-24 preferred to keep in touch via Facebook Messenger or text.
  • Men aged 25-34 were most likely to keep in touch via text (33 per cent), with a phone call (22 per cent) and WhatsApp messaging (18 per cent) following closely behind.

Pair this excellent information with the three things they suggest you do today: ‘step up’ (reach out to your mates. There’s probably one who needs you), ‘catch up’ (get together. There’s no time like the most Aussie day of the year), and ‘speak up’ (sense something’s up? Now’s your chance to let them know you’re there), and you’ve got yourself a MAYEIGHT date sorted.

We’re a notoriously stubborn bunch, but with a little more communication amongst ourselves, we can make the leading cause of death amongst that 18-45 bracket ‘firework mishaps’, or something else–anything–less painfully avoidable.