“Maskstaches” Remind Men to Care for Their Health

Brookings, S.D. – Nov. 5, 2020 – Worldwide men die on average six years earlier than women. For American men, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young American males between the ages of 15 and 34. On average, men experience a first heart attack at age 65, seven years before women.

Those statistics are staggering. They drive the reason behind Brookings Health System’s annual Movember promotion, also known as No-Shave-November, a month-long campaign to build awareness of the health issues facing men.

“We’ve been celebrating Movember since 2012, using it as a platform to encourage guys to take care of all aspects of their health,” said Marketing & PR Director Julia Yoder. “The pandemic has spurred our creativity with how we get our message out and raise awareness this year. That’s why we partnered with Allegra of Brookings in creating a ‘maskstache.’ It allows people to be safe during the pandemic while also showing support for men’s health.”

The maskstaches consist of 2-ply, tight knit jersey cotton and are printed with a mustache, the symbol of the Movember movement. They are available for sale on Allegra’s website, allegrabrookings.square.site, and can be shipped or picked up from their downtown location. Proceeds raised from maskstache sales will benefit Brookings Health System Foundation. Funds will promote local health resources and screenings available to men in our community.

So why do men die earlier than women? It may be due to lifestyle; 41 percent of men in high-income countries like the U.S. do not exercise enough. It may also be because guys are 24 percent less likely than women to have visited a physician in the past year. And the pandemic may give men an additional excuse to skip the doctor. According to the CDC, 40% of U.S. adults have delayed medical care due to COVID-19 concerns.

“A lot of times guys just put their health on the back burner,” said Family Medicine Physician Dr. Andrew Ellsworth, who also serves on Brookings Health’s Board of Trustees. “We tend to not openly discuss our health or how we’re feeling and are usually more reluctant to seek care when we don’t feel physically or mentally well. We may also engage in riskier behaviors. Having an annual exam for some men is just not a priority until it becomes too late.”

During a yearly physical, a primary care provider establishes baselines for vitals such as a blood pressure and cholesterol, and also conducts potentially life-saving screenings. For example, prostate cancer detected during an annual screening is usually found at an earlier, more treatable stage. And most testicular cancers are also found at an earlier stage when they’re small and haven’t spread. Ellsworth adds that establishing a relationship with a primary care provider through annual exams also gives patients an advocate, someone to turn to and help guide them through the healthcare system when they are faced with a larger health concern.

Mental health and well-being is another contributing factor and something providers are paying especially close attention to during the pandemic. The highest rate of depression is in men ages 40 to 59. Globally 60 men are lost each hour, every hour to suicide. What’s more, the isolation, grief and economic hardships created by the pandemic can fuel depression and anxiety. According to the Movember global health charity, 21% of U.S. males surveyed responded their mental health had worsened compared to before COVID-19. 

“We may be physically apart during the pandemic, but it’s important for us to stay connected with each other,” said Ellsworth. “More conversations are needed for everyone who is struggling during COVID-19. Loved ones need to stay in touch for one another’s well-being, especially people who live alone or are otherwise isolated. For those needing assistance, there are numerous options for people to reach out to a behavioral health provider.”

In the Brookings community, those looking for behavioral health options are encouraged to call the Helpline Center at 211. The Helpline Center also provides suicide prevention training and crisis support information on their website, helplinecenter.org

All of those facts return to the mustache, the symbol to remind men to care for their health. 

“Our faces are covered during the pandemic to protect one another from COVID-19,” said Yoder, encouraging the community to show support for men’s health with the maskstache. “But that doesn’t mean our faces can’t say something with our masks.” 

About Brookings Health System

Brookings Health System, located in Brookings, South Dakota, includes a 49-bed hospital, the 79-bed The Neighborhoods at Brookview nursing home, Brookhaven Estates senior living apartments, Yorkshire Eye Clinic & Optical, and medical clinics in Arlington, White and Volga, South Dakota. It is a non-profit, city-owned facility that offers the community a full range of inpatient, outpatient, emergency and extended care services. Brookings Hospital provides local access to doctors in Brookings and offers robotic da Vinci surgery and Mako robotic-arm assisted procedures, making it one of the premier rural community hospitals in South Dakota. For more information about the services offered at Brookings Health System, please call (605) 696-9000 or visit us on the Web at brookingshealth.org.


PHOTO: Marketing and PR Director Julia Yoder and Allegra Owner Angie Roden sport maskstaches printed and sold by Allegra. Brookings Health partnered with Allegra to create the maskstaches as a way to build awareness of men’s health issues during Movember while still encouraging safety during the pandemic. Proceeds benefit Brookings Health System Foundation and will be used to promote health resources and screenings available for men.

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