As we head into November, men everywhere are bracing themselves (and their upper lips) for another season of “Movember”. An annual campaign that began in Australia in 2003, Movember is a movement to raise awareness of men’s health issues. Men are encouraged to raise funds from their family and friends by growing moustaches during the month. All proceeds raised by the Movember Foundation benefit men’s health research programs, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s mental health.
As lead investigator of the Men’s Health Research Program at the University of British Columbia and an Australian himself, it seems fitting that Dr. John Oliffe is a huge supporter of Movember. Since receiving a scholar award from MSFHR in 2006, he has made great strides in his efforts to improve the mental health of men living with depression.
The funding Oliffe has received from MSFHR has enabled him (and his co-PI John Ogrodniczuk, a UBC professor in Psychiatry) to attract funding from Movember to establish the Men’s Depression and Suicide Network, comprising of five projects dedicated to reducing men’s depression and male suicide. Oliffe contends that depression is often overlooked by clinicians in men’s health. “There are many stigmas that exist against men and depression,” Oliffe says. His network intends to raise awareness and remove some of those stigmas.
Oliffe states that his award from MSFHR has tremendously impacted the scope and quality of his research. “Without the award from the Michael Smith Foundation, I would not have had the ability to focus on this research in the last eight years,” says Oliffe. Within the same year, he also received a New Investigator award from CIHR. Oliffe says that both awards enabled him to stay in Canada and research in British Columbia and helped him leverage further funds; last year, wherein the network received $3 million in funding from the Movember Foundation.
Oliffe is encouraging men to help raise awareness for men’s mental health issues by participating in Movember. When asked if he is planning on sporting a moustache this November, Oliffe simply says he will try. His preferred moustache style? A visible one.