Hairy lips not stiff upper lips can aid mental health

CPFT consultant liaison psychiatrist Angus Brown explains why he’s taking part in Movember

Hairy lips not stiff upper lips can aid mental health
10 November 2015

Angus Brown, consultant liaison psychiatrist with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, explains why he’s taking part in Movember

I’ve got 22 days left to grow a moustache. Most importantly I hope it will mean by cultivating a hairy lip, there will be less of need for a stiff upper lip.

Perhaps I should explain.

I’m taking part in Movember. It’s been increasing in popularity in recent years and the set-up is an easy one to understand. Men are encouraged to grow a ‘mo’ in return for raising money.

What is perhaps less well known is what happens to that money. The Movember Foundation focuses its funds on four areas of men’s health: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, physical inactivity and poor mental health.

That last area is of particular interest to me. My role means I work at for CPFT but I'm based at Peterborough City Hospital providing psychiatric care to patients as well as advice, education and training to staff on how to identify and manage mental health problems.

The aim is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness and improve the quality of care patients with mental health problems receive when they are in hospital.

I think the tide is turning over the understanding of mental health issues, but there is still an awfully long way to go - and we certainly need to do more to help young men.

It’s an appalling fact that the biggest cause of death for men aged 20 - 45 is suicide.

Figures reported recently by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (Calm) revealed there were 4,623 male suicides in the UK in 2014, the second highest number in 15 years and the equivalent of 12 deaths a day and that 42 per cent of men in the UK have contemplated suicide.

It’s a human tragedy, and something that everyone – not just the NHS or mental health professionals – can be involved in changing.

For me, it’s got to be the end of the stiff upper lip attitude where men are led to believe that talking about their feelings is somehow a sign of weakness.

There are things that men can do to help themselves - improving physical health – keeping fit, eating a healthy diet, lowering alcohol intake – which can have positive effects on mental health.

But we must also get to a place where men feel no shame in turning to professional advice, like CPFT’s Psychological Wellbeing Service which offers help and support to those who are feeling stressed, anxious or burned-out.

So wish me, my colleague Alex Pole, and the thousands of other men taking part in Movember well. The next three weeks are more than just about growing a Fu Manchu, a handlebar, or a Dali – it could just lead to something really great.

To sponsor Angus click here or pledge support for Alex click here.

The column first appeared in the Cambridge News on Monday, 9 November. Picture courtesy of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.


For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Communications Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 726767


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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