16 April 2020


Five minutes to touch base with a mate could make a massive difference
Mental Health
Physical distancing is essential to combat COVID-19, but it means the things men typically rely on to connect have been lost – but just five minutes to touch base with a mate who’s struggling could make a massive difference to their mental health.
We all know the importance of getting our five-a-day in. Five servings of fruit and vegetables each day help to keep us physically healthy and reduce the risk of serious disease. But what about our mental health?
During this unprecedented time of isolation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, stress and anxiety levels around the world are understandably high – so Movember wants you to take regular steps towards maintaining positive mental health.
Just like you need your five-a-day to stay physically healthy, we want you to take five minutes a day to look out for both yours and your mates’ mental health.
Physical distancing is essential to combat COVID-19, but it means the things men typically rely on to connect and look after each other – like going to a gig, the gym or watching sport – have been lost.
While this global crisis undoubtedly affects those of all genders, we know men can struggle to connect and talk about how they’re feeling at the best of times. In the current situation, this is vital for blokes now more than ever. That’s why Movember is encouraging everyone to take on the Five-A-Day challenge.

“Just like you need your five-a-day to stay physically healthy, we want you to take five minutes a day to look out for both yours and your mates’ mental health.”


The challenge is simple: Make a commitment to spend at least five minutes a day checking in with a bloke who might be struggling. Send a text to see how they’re coping with isolation, FaceTime to see what they’ve been doing to keep busy or have a chat on the phone about what’s for dinner.
Be prepared to give them more time if you need to delve a little deeper, but a general catch up might be all they need. Regular conversations will help you look out for the men in your lives – and also keep your own mental health in check by making sure you stay socially connected during lockdown.
Movember’s Dr Zac Seidler, Clinical Psychologist and Men’s Mental Health expert, says sharing our own challenges can be a good place to start.
He said: “If we are going to look after our mates, we need to be open to share what’s going on in our lives first.
“Just because the sports we love are cancelled and the pub is closed doesn’t mean your mates no longer care or want to see you. We’ve got more ways to connect than we know, it just takes an open mind and some inventiveness.
“Life is going to take some strange turns for the next while, staying connected regularly with your mates is a sure-fire way to stay grounded. Adapting to this situation means putting in place a quality routine to stick to everyday, not railing against it.
“While often helpful, pretending this is business as usual isn’t the best approach here. Make the call, connect and check-in; we’re stronger getting through this together.”
Movember wants men to make the call to look after themselves and others around them. In these incredibly tough times it might feel uncomfortable, and it’s OK to not know what to say and not have all the answers.  But this isn’t time for a stiff upper lip, it’s time to rally together.
Don’t assume your mate doesn’t want to be bothered or doesn’t want to talk about it. Just make the call – it’ll go a long way. We’re doing it tough, but if we make the call to look out for ourselves and each other, we can get through this. 
What should I say?
Sparking a conversation doesn’t have to feel heavy. Try getting over that initial hurdle with some of these conversation starters:
  • Hi mate. What’s on your schedule for today?
  • How are you finding working from home? OR How are you feeling going to work? (for key workers)
  • I’m working my way up to becoming a Master Chef in isolation. Have you got any recipes you’ve discovered to share? OR Let’s both try our hand at making the same dish tonight.
  • I’m seriously missing my sport fix these days. What are you watching instead?
  • I’m struggling to get motivated to work out. Are there any apps you have been using? Do you want to brainstorm an at-home session with me?
If you’re concerned about a mate and don’t know where to start, use the ALEC conversation model: Ask, Listen, Encourage Action, Check-in.

(A)sk: Start by mentioning anything different you’ve noticed. Maybe he’s dropped out of the group chat or isn’t so active on social media anymore.

“You’ve not quite seemed yourself recently. Are you okay?”
Trust your instinct. Remember, we often say “I’m fine” when we’re not. So if you think something’s wrong, don’t be afraid to ask twice.

(L)isten: Try to give him your full attention, without interruptions. Don’t feel you have to diagnose problems, offer solutions or give advice. Just let him know you’re all ears, judgement-free. Follow-up questions are good too. They’ll help let him know you’re listening.

“That can’t be easy. How long have you felt that way?”

(E)ncourage Action: Help him to focus on simple things that might improve his wellbeing: Is he getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating properly? Maybe there’s something that's helped before? Suggest he tells other people he trusts how he's feeling. This will make things easier – for both of you. And if he’s felt low for more than two weeks, suggest he calls his doctor.

(C)heck-in: Suggest you catch up soon – over the phone, on FaceTime or even just a message. This will show you care. Plus, you’ll get a feel for whether he’s feeling any better. If you’re worried that somebody’s life is in immediate danger, go directly to emergency services.