The call comes from the Pink Panthers Cancer Support Group this ‘Movember’ – the month dedicated to highlighting men’s physical and mental health.
The Pink Panthers have held a number of awareness raising events in Derry in recent weeks and the ‘Panthers Movember MOT’ will take place at the Creggan Hub on 30 November.
Local men can come along that day and have a chat with the male support worker, Martin Mullen, to find out what services they provide and also get signs and symptoms of a wide variety of different cancers.
There will also be a focus on mental health, with stalls from ARC Fitness, Old Library Trust and Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum. Visitors can see what services are available in their area and how to access them. Men can also come in for a ‘little MOT’ with health checks such as height, weight, cholesterol checks and blood sugar. There’s even a free hot towel shave or haircut for the first 20 guys.
Martin Mullan told the Journal how the event will be very relaxed and accessible and said the focus will be on ensuring local men make their health a priority.
Martin shared how while things are “getting better,” there is still a “gap” regarding men talking about health issues and seeking help and support.
“Recently, a survey showed that 71% of men are worried about their health but are very afraid to talk about it. Personally, I understand that. It’s not easy. But it’s very important and everyone needs self-care It’s really okay reaching out.
“There’s a lot of safe spaces out there – whether that’s a community group, a men’s shed, or a group like Pink Panthers, where we lend a listening ear. Even something like talking to someone over coffee can make the biggest difference with someone who is concerned about his mental or physical health. Every man is different.”
Movember in particular highlights cancers such as prostate and testicular cancer and Martin outlined the importance of body awareness and self-control.
He highlighted how prostate and testicular cancer can occur in men of all ages and said that any man who notices a change in any part of his body, or thinks something is wrong physically or mentally, should contact his GP. While the problem may not be serious, “it’s always better to have it looked at.”
Mental health is also a major focus of Movember and Martin described mental illness as ‘like a pandemic all its own’,
“You have to remember that there is always someone to talk to.”
“I do believe that us men can sometimes feel guilty when it comes to talking about ourselves, but once you get the hang of it, it passes. It’s so important that you reach out.”
Martin added that even though Movember ends on November 30, health awareness is needed year-round.
“The faster we adjust our thinking to, ‘maybe I should talk to someone and that’s okay’, the better.
The Panthers Movember MOT will take place on Wednesday 30 November at the Creggan Hub, next to the Old Library Trust from 11am to 2pm – just pop in!