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Majority Of Kiwi Men Feel Social Pressure To Not Show Weakness

New research, conducted by men’s health charity Movember, has found that 70 percent of Kiwi men believe that society expects them to be “emotionally strong” and not show weakness, while 40 percent avoid talking about their problems because they don’t want to appear weak.

The research comes after a ground-breaking series called Man Enough, funded by Movember, investigated the state of male mental health in New Zealand and its link to the nation’s view on masculinity. Movember believes it is high time New Zealanders rewrite the definition of the Kiwi bloke and put to bed damaging, outdated personas of what it means to be a man in this country.

Rob Dunne, Country Manager of Movember, says, “Man Enough, and the research we conducted, has found that men still aren’t talking about significant issues they face, due to the age-old stigma of it being seen as a sign of weakness. We are still losing one kiwi man a day to suicide, which is tragic. As a nation we need to continue to prioritise mental health, give men the confidence to talk about the challenges they face, and also encourage them to be there to listen to their mates when they are struggling as well.

The study also found that 71 percent of men think they are “man enough” to work through challenges on their own, and over half (54 percent) don’t like to talk about and share their feelings.

Jacqui Maguire, mental health advocate for Movember, says, “In elements of Kiwi culture, you can still uncover an outdated and unhelpful concept of masculinity. The historic ‘Southern man’ image suggested that New Zealand men should be tough, independent and without vulnerability. This stereotype has been interpreted by some sectors of society, particularly in rural NZ, as a guidebook for being male”.

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Jacqui believes that more change is needed at all levels of society, “We need to teach our men from childhood how to form intimate friendships and relationships; where those suffering feel able to share and those supporting know how to listen and respond effectively”.

In the wake of national interest in the Man Enough series, Movember has released a behaviour change campaign of the same name, fronted by ex-professional rugby player, Slade McFarland, that challenges men to question their hard-man mentality and embrace their softer side.

“Slade is a brilliant man to lead this challenge – he’s the epitome of the tough, kiwi male stereotype as a former professional rugby player and construction worker. But he’s also been a youth worker, workplace drug tester and a Health and Safety Officer,” says Rob.

Slade’s current role is a Suicide Prevention Educator with MATES, an organisation established to advance mental health support and understanding in the construction industry.

"One of Movember’s focuses is on investing in programmes that give men the tools to help themselves and their communities. Funding Man Enough, a landmark, Kiwi-made show, and its follow-up campaign, is a high impact initiative that will connect with New Zealanders at an individual, community and cultural level.

“It is our hope that Man Enough encourages men from all walks of life take a more positive and healthy view of what it means to be a kiwi male. We’re losing too many great men and boys to suicide and it’s critical we make significant changes to our culture, social structures, and health systems to improve the mental wellbeing of our men.”

The campaign runs this month and will lead in to Movember’s annual awareness and fundraising month.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more men grow a Mo for the cause this year and show support for their Mo Bros, following their experience with Man Enough,” says Rob.

During Movember, Kiwis are encouraged to sign up at and register to either GROW a moustache, MOVE for their health and for others or HOST an event, or in some cases a combination of all.

Man Enough is available to stream on TVNZ OnDemand.

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