18 August 2020

What’s your big idea?

Michelle Terry discusses Movember’s latest project to strengthen social connections in men who are at risk of isolation.
Mental Health | Where The Money Goes

During the last six months, the world, in some ways, has become a much smaller place. From Melbourne to Manchester, Wellington to Winnipeg, we’ve discovered ingenious ways of using technology to overcome the challenges of physical distancing. 
Dinners with extended family - even if some members are on the other side of the world - catching up with an old mate over or a coffee or even playing a game of virtual darts has all become possible with a little ingenuity.
At Movember, we have been heartened and inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness or our Mo community, in coming up with innovative ways to stay connected during these last difficult months.
It shows that the message - of reaching out, staying in touch and doing what you can to bridge the distance during tough times – is getting through.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected our daily lives in ways that would have previously been unimaginable, we are still waiting for some of the long-term effects of this crisis to emerge.
What we do know is the combination of enforced social isolation and economic uncertainty is particularly damaging to male mental health.
Men rely heavily on their work to give them a sense of achievement and self-worth but now huge numbers are facing unemployment and/or financial difficulties.
In addition, the things men typically rely on to connect with each other – such as watching sport or catching up over a drink, were (and in some places still are) temporarily suspended.
According to Movember’s global report ‘Bridging The Distance’, which polled 5,737 people from Australia, the US, Canada and the UK, nearly a quarter of men (23 per cent) said their mental health had worsened, compared with before the outbreak of COVID-19 and almost a third (30 per cent) admitted they felt lonely more often.
We know that strong social connections are a key protective factor for men against anxiety, depression and suicide.
So, this is an opportunity for us shake things up.
We want to try and harness some of the creativity we’ve seen over the last few months and leverage some of the amazing ways that people have been keeping connected using technology.
Through an investment of $5.4m AUD, Movember’s Social Connections Challenge, which launched this week, is aimed at finding and developing initiatives that will strengthen social connections in men who are at risk of isolation.
 In the first phase of the project, up to 75 ideas from across five countries – the UK, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zealand will be shortlisted.
The funding will be directed to number of priority groups including: older men who live alone; men who have experienced recent relationship breakdown/family separation; men undergoing treatment for prostate or testicular cancer who are isolated, bereaved men who are experiencing loss and managing grief; men living with a mental health challenge who are at risk of substance misuse; young men affected by education interruption or unemployment due to the economic downturn and men from culturally diverse backgrounds who are unemployed and/or socially isolated.
During the second phase, we’ll select a number of ideas that have the potential to be developed further. We test, learn and find out exactly what works for men, so that the most promising programs can be scaled to reach more men, more quickly.
It’s about finding new ways of connecting people and getting them to support each other through tough times which is a really exciting prospect. And one that might save lives.

Click here for details and full Social Connections Challenge Criteria. 

Submit your idea here, entries close 15 October 2020, 5:00pm EST.