Globally, one man is lost every minute to suicide. That’s seven men a day in Australia, according to Australia’s leading men’s health organisation, Movember.
That’s seven men too many. We can’t sit back and accept this.
One Greek Australian who has been leading the charge in bringing awareness to this issue and men’s mental health more broadly is Peter Lambos.
Since 2006, Peter has taken part in Movember’s annual moustache-growing campaign, which encourages ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sisters’ to rally in support of men’s mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
For Peter, his interest in the campaign is personal. His brother-in-law, Andrew, took his own life in 1997 after a battle with depression.
“Every year since then on September 5, it’s one of those days where you sort of just don’t want to wake up, particularly for my wife and her family,” Peter tells The Greek Herald exclusively.
Add to this the fact that Peter works in fund management, which is considered a very male-dominated and high-stress industry.
“The industry I work in has had its fair share of suicides and people suffering from depression… I’ve lost a couple of friends and work colleagues to suicide. So when Movember came around, I could relate to it.”
This year, Peter says Movember is even more relatable as the coronavirus pandemic has “amplified the meaning of the campaign.”
He’s not wrong.
Figures released earlier this year by Movember, as part of a global study carried out by the Social Research Centre, found that 23 percent of men said their mental health worsened in the first six weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, with 30 percent noting increased feelings of loneliness.
Movember’s Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Brendan Maher, says it’s not surprising the impact of COVID-19 has hit men hard.
“We know men aren’t great at asking for, or seeking help at the best of times, so we need to do as much as we can to buffer some of the problems they’re facing, now,” Mr Maher says.
Peter wholeheartedly agrees and that’s why he’s put out all the stops this year to raise $10,000 for men’s mental health. This will be added to the $50,365 he’s already raised over the years.
“The challenge this year is that because I’m in Melbourne, we’re all wearing masks down here so I’ve been growing the moustache but not many people are seeing it when I’m out and about,” Peter explains.
“I thought that if I can raise $10,000, then I’ll keep the moustache for a year and once the masks are gone the moustache will still capture people’s thoughts.
“I really think there’s an opportunity for us Greeks to lead the charge and get involved with the Movember cause. We are known for growing great moustaches, so why not put it to good use!”
Especially, Peter says, because the issue of mental health, anxiety and depression “resonates strongly with the Greek community.”
“The challenges that many Greek migrants faced leaving their family behind to come to a foreign country plus the care and responsibility they took on to forge a new life and a new family, would have been a significant burden for many and potentially too much for some,” Peter says.
“So I think it’s important, not only for the elderly but for those in their 30s and 40s, to talk to their friends and family.
“Go and see the doctor and get a blood test as well. Get yourself checked. It’s a lot easier than you think and you could save your life. You could even save someone else’s life.”
A powerful message on an important men’s health issue which deserves to be in the spotlight.