The 2018 Movember campaign was years in the making - at least it was for one of the ad guys who worked helped develop the idea.

Ryan Jordan, the strategy director at ad agency Barnes, Catmur & Friends Dentsu, hasn't suffered from any of the physical illnesses most often associated with Movember but he has long struggled with his mental health, living for years with both depression and anxiety.

Like many Kiwi blokes, he wrapped himself in a cloak of machismo, taking the standard "man up" advice and keeping silent rather than talking to anyone about it.

"There's a deep-rooted stigma around mental health among Kiwi men," Jordan tells the Herald.


"When we're struggling with something, it's easier to keep quiet than to chat to a mate. A man stands on his own two feet, as the saying goes. 'She'll be right,' has become our mantra."

This, says Jordan, can have deadly consequences, with New Zealand having one of the highest rates of male suicide in the world.

Ryan Jordan recently decided to open up about his personal struggle. Photo/LinkedIn.
Ryan Jordan recently decided to open up about his personal struggle. Photo/LinkedIn.

Several weeks ago, in the lead up to this year's Movember, Jordan took to that most public of platforms, Facebook, and decided to open up about the issue he had been hiding from all his friends for years.

"I shared this story [on Facebook]: about 3 years ago, one of my best mates asked me if I was okay. I said, 'Yeah?' He turned to me and said, 'No mate, are you really okay?' I think as a rule, asking a mate if he's okay is a relatively closed question. To really get something meaningful back, we have to push for more. After initially feeling taken aback, I opened up."

He says the conversation that followed changed his life in that he finally felt comfortable enough to talk about what he had been hiding for so long.

"It sounds so simple, and potentially a bit flippant to those who haven't experienced a mental illness," he says, almost apologetically.

"But I know first-hand how talking to my best mates has allowed me to move forward with getting the help I have needed to manage my mental health.

"Until recently, I've viewed my illness as a weakness. Ironically, I was blown away by the response I got from so many guys saying how brave I was, and how they were inspired to do something for themselves, or for a mate."


Jordan said this kind of feedback served as major inspiration for this year's hirsute tradition of growing moustaches to raise awareness of men's health.

This year, Movember has launched what has been dubbed The Mensus, an outlet where men will be asked several questions about their mental wellbeing and allowed to respond with no judgment.

"After speaking to a lot of guys, we realised Kiwi men claim they'd speak to a mate if they needed to, they just don't know where to begin," explains Jordan.

"Once men have completed the Mensus, it will give them a tailored message based on their answers, giving them a useful tool to send to a mate to start a conversation about their mental health."

Jordan says he hopes that this inspires more blokes to drop the "man up" attitude and start talking about what they're feeling.

Where you can get help:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call 111.

If you need to talk to someone, the following free helplines operate 24/7:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354
SAMARITANS: 0800 726 666
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 or text 234
1737 NEED TO TALK? Call or text 1737