Having started the month at World Triathlon Championship Series Abu Dhabi, Sam Dickinson has been training a different part of his body this month as he grows a moustache for Movember.
The annual campaign raises awareness and funds for men’s health charities and initiatives, with Dickinson deciding to get involved to open up conversations on mental health.
“I’ve always donated to Movember, but this is the first time I’ve been at the age to grow a moustache for Movember,” Dickinson commented.
“I feel like it helps one understand a bit more about mental health. I’m really not used to seeing facial hair on my face and, some people like it, I absolutely hate it, but it’s there. No matter how much I want to take it off, I know I can’t for the month and that can relate to one’s mental health. It’s something that you want to get rid of, but a lot of the time you can’t.
“Certainly for me, it’s helped open my eyes to realise that actually, coping with having a moustache on my face is a lot harder than I thought because it affects your day-to-day and how you interact with people and that’s very similar to one’s mental health.”
According to Movember, men die on average five years earlier than women, with males accounting for 69% of all suicides across the world.
One of the reasons that Dickinson’s got involved with Movember is to start more conversations around mental health, both positive and challenges of mental health.
“I’ve had some positive reactions,” Dickinson added. “Once you get over how funny it is, you can actually get down to some serious conversations with people that you might not talk that openly about it with.
“Firstly because of the icebreaker on my top lip, but also the fact that the whole point of Movember is to speaking openly about one’s health and setting up that opportunity to have that conversation.
“Two or three times already this month it’s opened my eyes and taught me one or two things about others close to me, who’ve been brave enough to speak about it.”
As an athlete, Dickinson finds that keeping active helps his mental health, however, he also has support around him to talk to.
“Personally, I need sport and training and physical activity outside of the house to cope with day-to-day stresses, that’s what I use as a release,” he said.
“I do believe that that’s not just true for me, but true for a lot of people and the more we can spread the positivity about using exercise and physical activity to benefit one’s mental health the better.
“I think we all have our own ways and releases. Personally for me, stepping out of my own environment, if I am injured, for example I had a femoral stress response in my femur and couldn’t do anything for two weeks, so went to my parents house down south where I was away from the training environment in Leeds and they listened to me.
“Certainly leaning on one’s friends and family is definitely a good way of that release and letting people know how unhappy you are but also working towards knowing it won’t last forever. For other people, it could be friends, work colleagues, aunties, uncles, really whoever you feel comfortable talking about your mental health to.
“For me, I didn’t realise, it’s just been recently mainly since lockdown and since Covid, you realise how many people close to home it [mental health issues] does affect. I think, it’s really important to talk more openly about it so you can discover these things and help people get back on the road to recovery and that they’re actually comfortable in the environments they choose to be in.”
Having committed to the month, the moustache is not something that Dickinson will be keeping beyond November: “It’s absolutely coming off at the first possible opportunity!”
You can find out more about Movember, their work and how to donate, as well as the support they can provide for dealing with mental health, prostate cancer and testicular cancer by visiting their website below.