If you see faculty, staff and students sporting blue moustaches, it’s because they are supporting Blue Movember, a campaign designed to help raise awareness of mental health.
It is a variation on Movember, an annual event in which men grow moustaches during the month to raise awareness around men’s health issues, especially cancer. Blue Movember is a partnership between Movember and U of T’s Community Health Office Blue Space, but its focus is to encourage students to talk about mental health and well-being, according to one of the organizers, Lesley Mak, Assistant Director, Student Experience & Teaching Development.
As with Movember, faculty, staff and students are encouraged to grow moustaches throughout the month, an activity that encourages conversation about why people are doing this.
Mak noted that while the “student body is 75 per cent male, only 60 per cent of engineering students using our embedded counsellors are male.” The statistics come from the U of T Engineering Registrar’s Office and appointment data over the past three years.
This year’s campaign was launched Nov. 1 in The Pit in the Sandford Fleming Building with an event where faculty, staff and students were invited to have blue moustaches painted on – with washable make-up, of course.
Senior Lecturer Jason Bazylak (MIE) is planning to grow a moustache throughout the month, but got a head start by having a blue one painted on. He was accompanied by his two-and-a-half-year-old son Frankie, who also sported a blue moustache.
“I want to help raise awareness about men’s health issues,” Bazylak said. He has participated in previous campaigns, triggered in part by the fact his father died from cancer a few years ago.
“One of the big issues is men often aren’t aware of various health issues, including mental health, and they may be hesitant to speak about it,” he said. This sort of initiative helps get people talking, and mental health is an important one to address.
And, moustaches aren’t just for men. Professor Susan McCahan (MIE), Vice-Dean, Undergraduate, is participating – by having a blue moustache Photoshopped onto her face. The image is being used on posters to help promote the Blue Movember campaign at U of T Engineering.
Professor Beno Benhabib (MIE) is participating in Movember again this year. He has challenged the Faculty to raise $15,000 to shave off his moustache. This is not without precedent; three years ago, he challenged everyone to raise $10,000 to shave off his moustache for the first time in 25 years.
To find out more, see the Engineering team’s Movember webpage.
To support Jason Bazylak and his team, visit their Movember webpage.
For more photos from the Blue Movember launch, visit the Facebook gallery.