The team at Toowong Private Hospital have joined thousands of Australians around the country to grow a mo, dye their hair or log an exercise regime as part of Movember, an initiative to raise awareness of men’s health issues.
The six Mo Bros and Mo Sistas -Dr Andrew Khoo, David Sallows, Peter Carroll, Jae Bennett, Nancy Panapa and Hannah Ruegebrink - raised $1615 during November for the cause.
Each of them have their own motivations for joining the team, but ultimately they wanted to raise awareness of men’s health and in particular, mental health.
Director of Medical Services Dr Andrew Khoo, said the hardest part about growing a moustache was the itchiness, discomfort and explaining his appearance to patients, but he’s impressed Movember had taken on mental health as a cause.
“To have mental health, which is such a taboo subject politically and an area of medicine that struggles for equitable funding, involved with a brand like Movember is a great leap forward and one that should be supported.”
His fellow Mo Bro, Director of Administration and Finance David Sallows had to remind himself not to shave his moustache off every morning.
“I grew just a moustache in week one but the ‘constructive and character building’ comments of Toowong’s CEO Christine Gee and the rest of the hospital’s management team meant that I quickly decided to go for the full beard for the rest of the challenge.”
Public awareness of mental health issues was improving, but it was important to keep promoting and challenging people’s perception and awareness of mental health, he said.
“When you consider globally it is estimated over 500,000 million males take their own life every year, initiatives like Movember and the Australian Private Hospitals Association’s ‘Elephant in the Room’ can only help in this situation.”
Movember also encourages women to join the program as Mo Sistas. Environmental Services Manager Nancy Panapa, decided to change her hair colour throughout the month of Movember.
“The colours I have chosen represent health issues that stand out for me. Pink: cancer, blue: prostate cancer, purple: testicular cancer and green: mental health.”
Ms Panapa’s firsthand experience helping someone suffering from mental health stress has made raising awareness of it a subject close to her heart.
“I have experienced saving a person who tried to harm themselves and it gave me a real wake up call. It has made me more vigilant when being around people and even when listening to them. Every life is precious even if they can’t see it.”
Food Services Manager Peter Carrol, is a Movember veteran and has represented the hospital in previous years.
“I think the more society speaks about men’s health issues, males will become comfortable talking out loud about their own issues.”
Cadel House and Day Programs Administrator Jae Bennett, initiated the hospital staff participation in Movember and is taking the Move for Movember challenge, working out three times a week and logging her workouts.
“Exercise is good for the mind and body. It’s doing something for you and taking control of your own situation.
“Men’s health is a community issue that needs to be confronted by everyone. There is strength in numbers.”
Toowong Private Hospital CEO, Christine Gee is proud of the team and all of the activities hospital staff have undertaken to raise mental health awareness and get men talking about their health.
“I feel private hospitals have a role in not just the provision of hospital care and treatment but also in health promotion activities and awareness, and I’m pleased to say that they do this very well. Toowong Private Hospital is proud to play its part.”
Ms Gee has been wearing her Mo brooch for the whole month of November to show her support and the team at Toowong Private Hospital are already keen to sign up for another round next year.