Over the past few months, people worldwide have faced unforeseen challenges, from employment and personal loss, to restricted social activity, and consequently, a strain on mental health.
In May, men’s health charity Movember launched a global survey, the results of which revealed that nearly a quarter of men reported their mental health had worsened in the first six weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly a third reported feelings of loneliness, with 71% (the highest percentage) among men aged 18 to 29.
These survey findings and previously funded research on men’s social connections prompted the organization synonymous with moustache growing–fundraising to release its second Social Connections Challenge.
The program, which has launched in Canada and four other global markets, is searching for fresh and exciting digital- or technology-focused ideas that maintain or strengthen social connections while also addressing isolation in groups of at-risk men. The best part: anyone across Canada with a relevant technology-based idea is encouraged to submit it.
Movember is looking for innovative and outside the box ideas that respond to the current situation and can be carried into the future, helping men stay connected beyond the pandemic.
In total, up to 75 ideas from Ireland, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada will be shortlisted. At this point, Movember’s goal is to select up to 16 ideas and invest $3.22 million in the solutions that bring men closer together and reduce feelings of isolation.
Up to five digital or technology-based solutions will be selected in Canada, each of which will receive an investment of between $90,000 to $225,000 to co-develop their idea in partnership with Movember.
The call for submissions coincides with an important time for mental health awareness: World Suicide Prevention Day, which takes place on Thursday, September 10. In Canada, three out of four suicides are by men, and it remains the second-largest cause of death for men under the age of 44.
Global director of mental health and suicide prevention at Movember, Brendan Maher, notes on the organization’s website that strong social connections are a key protective factor for men against anxiety, depression, and potentially suicide.
Movember is committed to encouraging and supporting men in being “men of more words,” empowering them to speak out when something doesn’t feel right. The organization also advocates for the importance of staying connected and open with loved ones.
The Social Connections Challenge is set to ensure funding is directed to the following priority groups, with a focus on men who are likely to be at a greater risk of social isolation due to geographical location, socio-economic status, gender identity and/or cultural background including:
- Older men who live alone
- Men who have experienced recent relationship breakdown/family separation
- Men undergoing treatment for prostate/testicular cancer who are experiencing social isolation
- Bereaved men experiencing loss and managing grief while socially isolated
- Men living with a mental health challenge who are at risk of substance misuse due to social isolation or who are in recovery
- Young men affected by education interruption or unemployment due to the economic downturn
- Men from culturally diverse backgrounds who are unemployed and/or socially isolated
The Social Connections Challenge falls under Movember’s Social Innovators Challenge (SIC) Program umbrella.
Initially launched in 2015 with an investment of $5.2 million, the SIC funded programming encouraged men to build positive relationships, and increase levels of social connection and their feelings of belonging. This program saw 12 ideas progress through the first round of funding.
Ideas for the current challenge, whether big or small, are being accepted from now through Thursday, October 15. To find out more information and to submit your idea, visit movember.com.