Derry men urged to be mindful of their health this 'Movember'

Men across Derry and the North West are being urged to be mindful of their health and to reach out if they have any concerns.

The call comes from the Pink Panthers Cancer Support Group this ‘Movember’ – the month is dedicated to highlighting men’s physical and mental health.

The Pink Panthers have undertaken a number of awareness events across Derry in recent weeks and on November 30, the ‘Panthers Movember MOT’ will take place in the Creggan Hub.

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Local men can go along on the day and have a chat to Male Support Worker, Martin Mullen, to find out what services they provide and also get signs and symptoms of a wide range of various cancers.

Martin Mullan pictured with staff members in Catalyst, Martin recently delivered a men's health awareness event in Catayst.

There will also be mental health awareness, with stalls from ARC Fitness, Old Library Trust and Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum. Attendees will be able to find out the services available in their area and how to access them. Men can also pop in and get themselves ‘a wee M.O.T’ with health checks including height, weight, cholesterol checks and blood sugar. There will even be a free hot towel shave or hair cut for the first 20 men.

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.

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Martin told how, while things are ‘getting better’ there is a still a ‘gap’ there in relation to men speaking about any health concerns and seeking help and support.

"A survey recently suggested that 71% of men worry about their health, but are very apprehensive to talk about it. I, personally, get that. It’s not easy. But it is very important and everyone needs self care. it really is ok to reach out.

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"There are lots of safe spaces out there – whether that be a community group, a men’s shed, or a group like Pink Panthers, where we offer a listening ear. Even something like speaking to someone over a cup of coffee could make the biggest difference to someone, who has concerns over either their mental or physical health. Every man is different.”

Movember, in particular, highlights cancers such as prostate and testicular and Martin outlined the importance of being body aware and self checking.

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He highlighted how prostate and testicular cancers can occur in men of all ages and said any man who notices a change in any part of his body, or believes something might be wrong either physically or mentally, should contact their GP. While the issue may not be serious, ‘it’s always better to get it looked at.’

Mental health is also a key focus of Movember and Martin described mental illness as ‘like a pandemic all of its own’,

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“You have to remember there is always someone out there to talk to.”

"I do believe that, sometimes, us men can carry a sense of guilt when it comes to talking about ourselves, but once you get it out there, that does pass. It’s so important that you reach out.”

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Martin added that while Movember finishes on November 30, health awareness is something that is needed all year around,

“The sooner we adapt our thinking to: ‘maybe I need to chat to someone and that’s ok,’ the better.

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The Pink Panthers are also there to help. See https://pink-ladies.co.uk/pink-panthers

The Panthers Movember MOT takes place on Wednesday, November 30 in the Creggan Hub, beside the Old Library Trust from 11am to 2pm – just drop in!