Movember Has Issued a New ‘Social Connections Challenge’


Men’s mental health organisation, Movember, has issued a new challenge and it has nothing to do with growing facial hair. This year has thrown a lot our way, including social isolation, financial hardship and job losses and it has taken a toll on our mental health.

According to Movember, the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly hard for at-risk men, with recent research finding that poor mental health and high rates of suicide ideation are increasingly evident among boys and men of colour.

To help combat this, Movember has created the Social Connections Challenge — a search for fresh and exciting digital and technological ideas that address social isolation. And, Movember will be investing $3.54 million into these ideas.

Movember is looking for a technology-based solution that can maintain men’s social connections and manage their isolation while social distancing is still necessary. The technology must also address the mental health risks of vulnerable men by exploring innovative solutions that can potentially be scaled for long-term impact.

Up to 75 ideas from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom will be shortlisted, with up to five projects selected from Australia for a co-development investment of $100,000 to $250,000.

The winning ideas will focus on geographical location, socio-economic status and cultural diversity of men who are considered high-risk. These priority groups include:

  • 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 racially and culturally diverse backgrounds who are unemployed and/or socially isolated

There is so much research that highlights the importance of connection, including a recent study that found social connection to the be the most important external factor in lowering the risk of depression. Finding a way to overcome this in a time of isolation would be invaluable.

“It’s concerning that in the midst of this pandemic, Movember research tells us that 33 per cent of men admitted they felt lonely more often,” Movember global director of mental health and suicide prevention, Brendan Maher said.

“We’ve been isolated from our usual support networks and coping mechanisms which can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing. There is a critical need to ease the anxiety and strain resulting from being physically apart.”

If you’ve got an idea that could be fitting for the Social Connections Challenge, head to the Movember website for more information. Entries close October 15, 2020. Good luck!

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